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Los Angeles Law Blog

What is an Alfred plea?

If you are in court for a criminal offense in California, you may be offered the chance to make an Alfred plea. If you do not know what this is, you cannot make the plea in good faith. According to Discovery Communication, Inc., an Alfred plea is when you maintain that you are innocent but admit there is a compelling case against you. It is similar to a no contest plea. Except, in this case, you are disputing the evidence against you whereas with a no contest plea you are accepting the evidence.  The similarity for both plea options is that the judge in the case will enter a guilty verdict on your behalf.

The origin of this plea option comes from a case involving Henry Alfred. He pled guilty to a murder charge as part of a plea bargain even though he insisted he was innocent. However, in pleading guilty, he actually had to admit guilt, which did not sit well with him. After appeals, the Supreme Court ruling spurned the Alfred plea as an alternative option to pleading guilty.

What to do after being charged with a DUI

You may feel as if you made the biggest mistake of your life by driving while intoxicated and getting arrested for a DUI in California. But if you do not take your situation seriously and act in a timely manner, you could end up making more serious mistakes that can have a much bigger impact on your life than your arrest.

Consider the following actions to take after being charged with a DUI to improve the outcome of your situation.

Understanding the definition of distracted driving

Even though driving is one of the most valuable privileges to have, many motorists often forget that attentive driving means focusing solely on the road ahead. Frequently, California drivers get caught up in the day-to-day activities that momentarily seem manageable while operating a vehicle, but distraction can cost them their life and jeopardize the lives of others in an instant.

When the term “distracted driving” is heard, many people instantly think of texting and driving or manipulating an electronic device. However, there are a lot of other behaviors that are easily as dangerous and draw attention away from driving. The Huffington Post shared some other interruptions that distract drivers including the following:

  • Reading
  • Driving while experiencing emotions like happiness, sadness or anger
  • Writing
  • Fatigue
  • Reaching for things like CDs or food
  • Talking or interacting with a passenger, particularly another adult or teen

Low-income as a factor in rising pedestrian deaths

Death on the streets and freeways around California and the country is all too common. In a post in March, we took note of a report by the National Safety Council showing that motor vehicle accident deaths shot up last year. That followed several years of declines. Now, another report is out indicating that pedestrian fatalities increased 11 percent in 2016. That compares with a 12 percent increase recorded in the period from 2006 to 2015.

Perhaps that doesn't seem too surprising to many readers. After all, communities all over the country have noted a distinct rise in the numbers of pedestrians. More people are choosing to walk, bike or bus to wherever they want to go. Add to that the increase in distracted driving and walking and it could be argued rising fatalities must be expected. But that doesn't fly if you are a victim of driver negligence.

Driving drugged can be hard to prove, but authorities will try

Medically speaking, it can be difficult to tell what it takes for someone to be alcohol impaired. Men tend to be able to drink more than women. Individuals with greater body weight and height often can imbibe more than those who are slighter. Legally speaking, however, all it takes for authorities to level drunk driving charges is for a suspect to register a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent. At that point, you are considered legally drunk in California.

The issue of driving while impaired by drugs is less clear. There is no consensus, medical or otherwise, about how much of a drug a person needs to have in the blood stream before they can be said to be impaired. That doesn't stop authorities from bringing charges. They just might have to depend more on visual evidence to make a case, such as witnessing erratic driving or a driver's physical appearance.

Good things to know if you've suffered a brain injury

When someone is physically injured, you usually can tell. There are visible indicators. Scrapes and abrasions; bandages; casts; slings' crutches and other durable medical devices are all clues. If someone suffers a brain injury, the signs are often subtle. Los Angeles attorneys with experience in this area of law know this.

Being knocked unconscious for some reason, suffering dizziness, vomiting and blurry vision in the wake of an accident might be immediate indicators of brain trauma. Often, the symptoms of brain injury present as behavioral changes. Regardless of what the signs are or when they become apparent, if the initial trauma can be traced to someone else's negligent action, an assessment of whether legal action is appropriate is called for.

Steps to take after a bicycle accident

Being in a crash with another driver, no matter what type of vehicle you are driving, is a stressful situation. When you are riding a bicycle, it can add to the stress. Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as other motorists do, but many drivers do not see it that way. Knowing what to do after a bicycle accident can help you get the treatment you need and file a claim with the other driver’s insurance if necessary. 

The California Bicycle Coalition recommends taking these steps following a bicycle crash: 

  • Stay calm. First make sure you are not injured. If you are, get medical treatment. Call 911 to get a police officer to come out.
  • Ask the other driver to stay while you wait for the authorities. If the driver will not wait, get as much information as possible: license plate of the car, name, address, phone number and insurance information, if possible.
  • Take pictures if you can.
  • Get the names and addresses of witnesses. Ask them to stay, too.
  • Remain at the scene until the police arrive and ask them to file an accident report.
  • Do not admit that the accident was your fault. Just give the facts of what happened and do not lay blame.

Criminal charges can come in multiples. Each one is serious

A tenet of the legal system in California and the rest of the U.S. is that you cannot be tried twice for the same crime. That's a protection provided under the "Double Jeopardy Clause" of the U.S. Constitution.

There are exceptions to that protection. For example, if the events of the crime allegedly occurred in more than one state, you could be charged with the same crime in each jurisdiction. What you more commonly see in one state is a suspect charged with multiple offenses based on different elements of the same crime. It provides prosecutors with something of a hedge.

In criminal cases, integrity of evidence is major

There are many types of evidence of possible use in court cases. Regardless of the forum, civil or criminal, one thing remains common. There has to be confidence in the integrity of that evidence. It has to be relevant, accurate and reliable. Otherwise, the outcome of a case is questionable.

This is especially important when someone is facing a criminal charge. In a criminal matter, the life, liberty and reputation of the person charged are all on the line. The value of those things is considered so important that the system in California and the rest of the country includes the clear statement that every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

What' are the most common causes of car accidents?

Lists are big on the web. They're so prevalent they now stand as their own content genre – the listicle. The reason experts say they are so popular is because they are easy to skim, easy to dump out of and easy to believe. Some might argue they are also easier to write.

Despite the emphasis on ease, there's another good reason a listicle can be a good thing. It allows for some self-reflection by readers about how they can change the list. For the sake of victims injured in California car accidents who might be saved from that trauma, here's a list of some of the most common causes of car accidents.

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