Criminal Law Practice Areas

Getting arrested for a crime is one of the most stressful, alarming, foreign, overwhelming, and embarrassing experiences people can go through in life. Regardless of the severity of the charge or what you are going through,
I can help.

Presumably, you are reading this because you, or a loved one, was cited or arrested and now must appear in court. Unfortunately, the process is just beginning. What is essential however is that you preserve your rights (or those of your loved one) before those rights are inadvertently waived without the knowledge of what happened. Whether you are from Maui or on your dream vacation, regardless of whether you are guilty or innocent, you should not go to court unprepared and not proceed without a qualified and experienced attorney. Call today to schedule a free consultation as I can help you get through this.

I have an extensive background in criminal law and have handled almost every type of case imaginable including: DUI/DWI/OUI, Assault, Drug Possession/Distribution, Theft, Burglary, Domestic Violence/Abuse of Household or Family Member, Grand Theft or Unauthorized Control of a Propelled Vehicle, Unauthorized Entry of a Motor Vehicle, Criminal Property Damage, Reckless Driving, Inattention to Driving, Excessive Speeding, Open Container, every conceivable traffic violation and more…

Below is more specific information concerning the process of the criminal justice system and certain common charges.

The Process

Getting arrested, while the single event that stands out in most prominently in people’s memories, is unfortunately just the beginning of the process. Each paragraph below details a separate stage in the process. Not all cases will get to each of the stages described below.

The Arrest: The police will arrest anyone they believe has committed a crime. Once arrested, the person is taken to the police station where they are processed (finger printed, photographed, etc.).

Bail: At the police station, the arresting or processing officer will also typically set the initial bail according to a written schedule (OUI’s are $1000.00, Class C felonies are $5,000.00, etc.). Bail is the money that you or someone on your behalf fronts to the court for your release while your case is pending. Think of it as an agreement whereby you promise to show up on your court dates and use the bail money as collateral to give that promise some substance. If you fail to show up as promised, the court will forfeit the bail money and charge you with contempt of court or failure to appear (additional criminal charges). As long as you appear for every one of your required hearings, or have your attorney stand in for you in non-felony cases, the bail money will be returned to the party that posted it when the case concludes at trial, if dismissed, or if you take a plea deal. If you post bail when arrested, you will be given a court date. If you cannot post bail, your case will be expedited and you will be brought before a judge within 48 hours of being arrested (unless over a weekend or holiday).

Initial Court Appearance: Your first court date is called the Arraignment and Plea or A&P. Here, if you are charged with anything that possibly could result in any jail time, the Judge will provide you reasonable time to hire an attorney. Once in court and with your attorney, the prosecutor formally reads the charges aloud or provides a written charging document that indicates what you are being charged with. Once you or your attorney receives this, you enter your plea. There are three options: not guilty, no contest or guilty. “Not guilty” is the only choice that preserves your rights and is the recommended election (even if you don’t intend to fight the charges later, it is still in your best interest to enter a not guilty plea at the initial appearance). “No contest” simply means you are not contesting the charge (not fighting it) and the judge will find you guilty and sentence you accordingly. Guilty means you are admitting to the charge and you will be sentenced accordingly.

Pretrial Conference: This hearing typically occurs six weeks after you enter a not guilty plea at the A&P. Here, your attorney and the prosecutor have, or should have, fully traded discovery (police reports, witness lists, etc.) and offers to settle the case. If there is an issue in the case that warrants filing motions and/or evidentiary hearings, such as motions to suppress chemical results or to dismiss, those evidentiary hearings are scheduled at the pretrial hearing. Likewise, trials are scheduled at this hearing. Note it is common to have multiple pretrial hearings before your case concludes. Occasionally, cases stay at the pretrial stage for years.

Motions and evidentiary Hearings: These hearings are like mini-trials and are hotly contested with witnesses, arguments by counsel, and culminate with the judge making a ruling based on the facts and circumstances brought to light in the hearing and the applicable case law. Generally, the purpose of these hearings is to limit the State in some specific way such as eliminating the chemical test from evidence, invalidating the traffic stop, and the like. Often, the motions have a determinative role in the case, meaning they determine which way the case goes.

Trial: At trial, the State has the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As a Defendant, you have no such burden and you are presumed innocent. The State will call the police officers that are listed in the police report in addition to any civilian witnesses involved in the case. You, or your attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine the State’s witness and to subpoena and call your own witnesses. There are two types of trials: judge and jury trials. In a judge trial, the judge is the only person to make the determination of whether the State has carried its burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In jury trials, the jury makes that determination. Whether you have a jury trial or judge trial depends on two things. First, you are only eligible to have a jury trial if you are facing more than six months of jail for any single charge. Second, if you have a right to a jury trial, you must elect or exercise that right and request a jury trial, otherwise, you waive that right and will have a judge trial. Regardless of whether you have a jury or judge trial, there are three outcomes. Acquitted, convicted or mistrial. An acquittal means you have been found “not guilty” and therefore no penalty is imposed and your record is clean. Convicted means you have been found guilty and will be sentenced accordingly. A mistrial is neither a conviction nor acquittal and occurs if the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, or there is a significant or prejudicial error in your case that warrants a new trial or dismissal.

Maui’s DUI OUI DWI Lawyer

I have successfully challenged all aspects of the Maui Prosecuting Attorney’s Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases and had numerous clients have their charges dismissed before trial or be acquitted at trial in cases from Hana, Nahiku, Kihei, Kula, Makawao, Pukalani, Haiku, Paia, Kahului, Wailuku, Kaanapali, Napili, Lahaina, Kahakuloa, Wailea, Lanai City, Kaunakakai, Maunaloa, and more throughout Maui County. While the results in each case depend on the specific facts and circumstances, you should always consult a qualified DUI/DWI/OUI attorney, such as myself, immediately and prior to any court appearance. I offer free consultations for these types of case. Call 808.242.2811 to schedule an appointment.

Whether you are a local resident, visitor, or tourist enjoying your dream vacation to Maui, getting arrested for DUI /OUI/DWI is a challenging experience. Getting convicted is a significant event that should be avoided if possible as it can have long lasting consequences to your quality of life, career, immigration status and more.

I can help mitigate or eliminate these risks depending on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. As a former Prosecuting Attorney and Public Defender criminal defense lawyer here on Maui, I have handled countless DUI /DWI /OUI’s (probably well over one thousand). Specifically, from my experience as a former Maui County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, I know exactly what the State must do to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As a criminal defense lawyer, I know how to aggressively take apart the State’s case for the best possible outcome for my clients. I understand the serious consequences that stem from a conviction of a DUI/DWI/OUI and I will work with you to formulate the best strategy for your particular case and aggressively fight for you toward the best possible result.

As a background, in Hawaii, there are two distinct parts of a DUI/DWI/OUI. First, and most importantly, is the criminal case. Here, I will aggressively use my expertise to your benefit and be with you at every phase of the case from your initial appearance at the arraignment and plea, to pretrial settings, motions to dismiss or suppress, and trial. Alternatively, if your goal is to find a reasonable resolution of the case, I can help by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your case and use that knowledge to negotiate with the Maui County Prosecuting Attorney to potentially avoid jail, minimize potential fines, and/or reduce the charge to a lesser type. Second, on the civil law side, the Administrative Driver’s License Revocation Office (ADLRO) holds a hearing to determine whether you should have your license revoked for a time period between one year and life. I will file a challenge to this hearing to overturn or reduce any revocation this administrative agency issues.

The question of whether to fight or settle the case always arises. While this decision is yours alone and should never be made by your attorney or anyone else, it is imperative you speak with a qualified DUI/DWI/OUI defense lawyer so you are informed on all the potential issues and consequences. There are multiple ways of challenging the DUI/DWI/OUI and each case requires an individualized approach, taking into consideration your goals and the evidence in your case. Many people feel that because they blew above the 0.08 BRAC, they have no case and should just plead Guilty or No Contest. However, like many criminal defense lawyers, I would disagree, as there are many ways of challenging the evidence. Some of the more common are listed below:

Challenging the Probable Cause or Reasonable Suspicion for the Traffic Stop and Arrest: Except in the limited cases of a DUI checkpoints, the police cannot simply stop any vehicle without having some legitimate basis. Typically, the police will rely on a “driving pattern,” which usually involves swerving over the lines (as swerving within your lane is not necessarily illegal), speeding, drifting and jerking, running stop signs/lights, driving at night with no lights on, collisions or near misses with other vehicles, etc. Other times, the police will stop an individual for simple infractions such as an expired safety sticker, broken tail/head lights, no bumper, wide tires, cell phone violation, no seatbelt use, loud exhaust, etc. After reviewing the police report we can discuss any potential illegal seizures under the 4th amendment and the Hawaii State Constitution, which if granted would most likely result in an outright dismissal of the case.

Challenging the Officer’s Qualifications and Procedure in Administering the SFST’s and Chemical Test: Prior to the judge admitting evidence of your performance on the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, and One Leg Stand) results, the State must adequately lay the foundation that the officer was appropriately trained to administer the tests and then that the officer administered the tests correctly according to his/her training in your case. Further, prior to any evidence being admitted pertaining to the results of your chemical test, if applicable, the State must establish the officer was adequately trained in administering the chemical test (Breath/Blood/Drug) and that he/she administered it correctly in your case.

Challenging the Chemical Test: Prior to admitting the evidence of Breath, Blood, or Urine tests, the machines used by the police the alcohol and/or drug concentrations must be calibrated and operated in a specific manner. Further, the machines must be tested periodically to ensure they are operating according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If the procedures are not followed exactly, the chemical test is generally inadmissible and thrown out.

Special Note for Tourists and Others on Vacation on Maui who are Arrested for an OUI/DUI/DWI: Generally, individuals are required to be present for all stages of the court proceedings. However, under rule 43 of the Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure, in non-felony cases such as most OUI/DWI/DUI’s, a qualified attorney may waive your physical presence for most, if not all of the proceedings. Please contact me to discuss your options to avoid a bench warrant and contempt charge.

Background on Hawaii’s DUI/DWI/OUI Laws: Although commonly called Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), the Legislator in Hawaii changed the term to Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OUI or more accurately OUII). This was a specific move to broaden the scope to include other vehicles besides cars and trucks. Now, any motorized vehicle can make you a target for the police if it is being operated on a public thoroughfare (parking lots are statutorily considered public roads in Hawaii).

 Bench Warrants

What Happens if you Miss Court and Help Clearing Them Up

Bench warrants generally arise when someone misses court. If the presiding judge issues one due to your absence for your scheduled hearing, the police will arrest you the next time they make contact with you regardless of where you are or what you are doing. If you don’t post bail once arrested, the police will take you to court within 48 hours (longer if over a weekend or holiday). Once there, the prosecutor generally charges contempt of court or failure to appear in addition to renewing the underlying basis for your initial appearance in court. Obviously, it is in your best interest to avoid this situation if at all possible.
If you know in advance you cannot make your court appearance, as long as the charge is not a felony, your attorney can typically stand in for you if you have some good faith basis for not making it (work, school, family emergency, out of the country, etc.).
For those other times when life does not cooperate and you miss your court appearance. There are ways of clearing up and recalling bench warrant so you do not make an unexpected journey to jail next time the police see you and more importantly, that you are not charged with contempt of court or failure to appear.
If you have a bench warrant or anticipate not being able to make your court appearance, call or email today for a free consultation, as there is a good chance I can help.
Special note for non U.S. Citizens: an active bench warrant will prevent you from entering the United States and being issued a visa or denial of entry if no visa is required. Call today to set up a consultation to determine the best course of action.