LAWYERS AND DUI
Lawyers are regulated and disciplined by the California State Bar
Lawyers Duty To Report
Pursuant to B&P §6068, it is the duty of attorneys licensed to practice law in California to report to the California State Bar, in writing, within 30 days of the time the attorney has knowledge of any of the following:
(1) The bringing of an indictment or information charging a felony against the attorney.
(2) The conviction of the attorney, including any verdict of guilty, or plea of guilty or no contest, of a felony, or a misdemeanor committed in the course of the practice of law, or in a manner in which a client of the attorney was the victim, or a necessary element of which, as determined by the statutory or common law definition of the misdemeanor, involves improper conduct of an attorney, including dishonesty or other moral turpitude, or an attempt or a conspiracy or solicitation of another to commit a felony or a misdemeanor of that type.
A mere misdemeanor arrest, or misdemeanor DUI conviction, does not trigger a reporting requirement for attorneys. Other counts, however, such as leaving the scene of an accident or driving on a suspended license may be viewed as crimes of moral turpitude. See Marmolejo-Campos v. Gonzales (9th Cir. 2007) (en banc) 558 F.3d 903 (misdemeanor DUI while driving on a suspended license deemed a crime of moral turpitude). Cf., Morales Garcia v. Holder (9th Cir. 2009) 567 F.3d 1058 (P.C. §273.5 conviction not categorically a crime of moral turpitude).
A finding of no moral turpitude does not always end the inquiry. Discipline may be imposed under the “other misconduct warranting disciple” standard for criminal conduct not involving moral turpitude under B&P §6100. Thus, the necessary nexus to the practice of law was established when an attorney who was on probation for a DUI re-offended during the term of probation. The court found that the attorney “demonstrated a complete disregard for the conditions of probation, the law and the safety of the public” See In re Kelley (1990) 52 Cal.3d 487. The court also noted that the repeated criminal conduct were indications that alcohol abuse was adversely affecting the lawyer’s personal life and that the state bar need not wait until the lawyer’s alcohol abuse actually affects the attorney’s clients. Id. at 495 (public reproval with probation condition that lawyer be screened by State Bar Alcohol Abuse Program; condition requiring abstinence from alcohol stricken).
Where a report is required the failure to submit it is independent grounds for discipline. B&P §6068(o)(10). Defense counsel should be discreet about revealing the attorney status of a client since prosecutors and court clerks are supposed to report convictions suffered by attorneys if they are aware of the defendant’s professional license.
The district attorney, city attorney, or other prosecuting agency shall notify the Office of the State Bar of California of the pendency of an action against an attorney charging a felony or misdemeanor immediately upon obtaining information that the defendant is an attorney. The notice shall identify the attorney and describe the crimes charged and the alleged facts. The prosecuting agency shall also notify the clerk of the court in which the action is pending that the defendant is an attorney, and the clerk shall record prominently in the file that the defendant is an attorney.
The clerk of the court in which an attorney is convicted of a crime shall, within 48 hours after the conviction, transmit a certified copy of the record of conviction to the Office of the State Bar. With- in five days of receipt, the Office of the State Bar shall transmit the record of any conviction which involves or may involve moral turpitude to the Supreme Court with such other records and information as may be appropriate to establish the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.” B&P §6061(b).
Lawyer Discipline For DUI
The tendency is for the State Bar to not discipline a lawyer who suffers a first time misdemeanor DUI (if they even find out about it). However, a high blood-alcohol level or repeated conduct can result in a suspension. B&P §6061(c).
For an attorney who suffered a second DUI conviction while on probation for a first offense, the California Supreme Court concluded that “[h]er repeated criminal conduct, and the circumstances surrounding it, are indications of alcohol abuse that is adversely affecting petitioner’s private life. We cannot and should not sit back and wait until petitioner’s alcohol abuse problem begins to affect her practice of law.” In re Kelley (1990) 52 Cal.3d 487, 495. She only got a public reproval and three years’ probation, but the Court noted that another attorney with a second DUI conviction was suspended for 6 months.
In July 2000, an attorney with an unstated prior record of discipline was suspended for one year and given three years’ probation due to conviction of drunk driving with one prior conviction. Also
If you are a Lawyer, or intend to seek licensure through the California Stater Bar, and you have a pending DUI or other misdemeanor and/or felony charge, you need a qualified attorney who not only specializes in DUI defense, but also has the necessary training, experience and qualifications to represent you before the California State Bar.
Your best chance to avoid license discipline by the California State Bar is to have the best qualified lawyer to represent you for your DUI case. At the Law Office of Barry T. Simons you can be assured of the strongest commitment to the defense of your DUI charge coupled with experienced representation before the State Bar if necessary. Our goal is to avoid discipline by avoiding a conviction.
Call 949-497-1729 for a free confidential consultation
By Barry T. Simons: “It is my honor and privilege to fight for my clients; challenge unjust laws; protect our Constitution and to be a thorn on the side of injustice”.