November 2017 Newsletter
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California Criminal Court 101
Most people are not familiar with the court system, so it can be pretty intimidating and confusing when you find yourself facing DUI or other misdemeanor charges and must appear in court. No matter who you are, you need to be aware of how criminal courts work in the state of California. This information can help you if you are charged in criminal court, or if a loved one or family member is facing criminal charges.

First Step: Arraignment

Your first appearance in criminal court following your arrest is called an arraignment. This is the hearing at which the judge will inform you of the charges against you and ask you how you intend to plead to the charges. At this point, you can plead guilty (which we do not recommend), not guilty, or no contest (nolo contendere). 

Second Step: Plea Agreement or Trial?

After completing discovery requests and subpoenaing documents, at some point you will have to decide whether to seek a plea bargain or ask for a trial. A plea bargain is an agreement between you and the prosecutor in which you will plead guilty to a law violation in exchange for a reduced sentence, or to lesser charges that carry a less severe penalty. Whether you decide to accept a plea agreement depends upon the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. If the evidence against you is overwhelming, then a plea bargain may be your best option. However, if there is a defense in your case that potentially could result in the dismissal of the charges against you, then proceeding to trial may be a better option. For example, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your DUI arrest was under .08%, you are likely to have a better outcome if you go to trial than if your BAC was above .08%. Only an experienced California criminal defense attorney can give you the information or advice that you need to make this decision.

Third Step: Go to Trial

Under California law, you can ask for a trial in front of a judge, which is called a bench trial, or a trial in front of a jury. Proceeding to trial is often a good idea if there are some holes in the prosecution's case. For instance, if your BAC was borderline, or at or near .08%, if the police acted unlawfully in arresting you, or if there is some doubt as to whether you actually were driving or not, then going to trial may be in your best interest. Again, we cannot give you a definitive answer about whether to go to trial or not, because the decision is always done by the person accused.  We will gather the evidence and subpoena documents on your behalf and make recommendations based on what we know about the facts of your case. Once we meet with you and get all the information that we need, we can give you a much better assessment of your case and the possibilities of success in trial.

Don't Hesitate, Call Us Today

Now that you have learned the basics about California criminal court, you are in a better position to make decisions about your situation. Your next step should be to contact the knowledgeable and skilled attorneys at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry for a full evaluation of your case. With the advice and counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can make the decisions that are best for you and your family. Call to set up an appointment today at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry by calling 1-855-213-8557 or visit us online at .
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What Constitutes DUI in California?
It is easy to believe that you will never face a DUI charge, or have a loved one or family member accused of DUI. The fact is, however, that DUI arrests and charges happen all the time. Even the person whom you would least expect to drive under the influence could easily make a mistake and end up facing DUI charges. Since the consequences of a DUI conviction can be negative, everyone needs to know what DUI is and how to avoid a DUI conviction.

California law defines DUI as driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. Under California's zero tolerance law, if you are under the age of 21, you can face DUI charges if you are driving with any amount of alcohol in your system. A separate law makes it illegal for minors to drive with a BAC measuring between .05% and .0799%. Minors will face standard DUI charges if they have a BAC measuring .08% or higher.

What Does California Law Consider to Be a Vehicle?

A vehicle is defined by California law as something that is self-propelled or powered by something other than a human. This is why you also can be charged with DUI if you are driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if you are driving a boat with a BAC of .08% or higher.

Do I Have to Be Actually Driving in Order to Be Charged with DUI?

Under the California Vehicle Code, you must be driving in order to commit DUI. This means that you are intentionally causing the vehicle to move by exercising actual physical control over it. The movement of the vehicle can be very slight, but there must be movement in order for your actions to be a DUI. However, you can be convicted of DUI even if the police don't physically see you driving your vehicle, based on circumstantial evidence. For example, a police officer could identify your car after receiving a report from a witness who saw you driving the vehicle erratically.

Can I Still Get a DUI for Smoking Marijuana Since It Is Legal in California?

You may face DUI charges if you have smoked marijuana to the extent that it impairs your ability to drive. Unlike alcohol, there is no standard amount of THC that definitively establishes impairment by marijuana. Therefore, proving impairment by marijuana usage or THC levels is not always easy to do. California lawmakers have attempted to address this problem, at least to some degree, by enacting Senate Bill 65, which Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law. SB 65 makes it illegal to drive or ride as a passenger in a vehicle while smoking or ingesting marijuana or any marijuana product. This law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Call Us Today for the Help You Need

While a DUI arrest is no laughing matter, it also is a common situation that occurs every day in the lives of all types of people. Our goal is to help you effectively resolve a DUI charge in a timely and efficient manner and minimize the potentially negative consequences of an arrest and conviction. There are many strong defenses available to you in DUI cases, and proven strategies that we have used in the past to help out other clients in the same situation. Contact us today at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry in order to set up a time to speak with us about your case.
A Note To Our Clients
  • To our current clients: Thank you for the opportunity to serve you during this difficult time.
  • To our future clients: We look forward to working with you in your time of need.
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Virginia Landry

Virginia L. Landry received her undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University in 1982. She then went on to pursue her law degree from Western State University, graduating in 1988. The following year, Ms. Landry opened her own Law Office. As a nationally recognized Board Certified DUI Defense Attorney Specialist, Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Virginia L. Landry, is able to practice law within all the California state courts and the Central District Court of the United States.


As a criminal defense lawyer with years of litigation and trial experience, Ms. Landry is fully prepared to handle criminal cases involving violent crimes, white collar crimes, theft crimes, sex crimes, juvenile crimes, drug crimes, weapons charges, and domestic violence. Attorney Landry has successfully represented clients facing a variety of complex misdemeanor and felony charges.

In addition to her current position as Regent for the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD), Virginia serves on the Board of Directors for the California DUI Lawyers Association  as its Secretary. Virginia is one of only a handful of attorneys across the nation who is Board Certified in DUI Defense. She has also received her  certificate of instruction , successfully training participants in DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student and Instructor courses.


Virginia Landry served on two committees and was on the Orange County Bar Association's Board of Directors for three years, is a past President and current member of the West Orange County Bar Association, is currently a Sustaining Member for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers serving as Co-Chair of the DUI / DWI Committee. Other local bar associations include the North Orange County Bar Association, The Newport Harbor Bar Association, the South Harbor Bar Association, the Western State University Alumni Association and the Northern Arizona University Alumni Association.