Friday, April 06, 2007 California: Santa Clara County program brings DUI trials to high schools

Searching for a California DUI Attorney? Visit Americas Top DUI Attorneys California: Santa Clara County program brings DUI trials to high schools: "Santa Clara County program brings DUI trials to high schoolsBy JORDAN ROBERTSON04/06/07 16:34:06 Mark Flores' drunken driving case started last fall when his Lincoln Continental was spotted weaving on a residential street at 2 a.m. A blood test after his arrest revealed an alcohol level at nearly twice the legal limit. The case ended Friday with Flores' conviction in the most unusual of courtrooms: a high school auditorium in front of about 100 fidgety teenagers. Flores, 25, a full-time student in graphic arts, agreed to have his case tried at James Lick High School in San Jose as part of a state-funded program that exposes seniors to real drunken driving trials. He faced a real judge and prosecutor, and he is scheduled to be sentenced later this month on the two misdemeanor DUI offenses. Although first-offense cases like his usually lead to punishments of six days in a weekend work program and a $1,600 fine, defendants who agree to have their cases heard in high schools are offered more leniency. The lighter sentences range from reduced penalties to waiving the fine outright and giving defendants credit for time served. Flores felt nervous and embarrassed on stage, but said he connected with the students in a short speech after the hearing. 'I'm not going to lie - at first I took it because of the deal,' he said. 'But I'd do it again. Now, I don't know if I'd do it on my own time, but I'd do it without the deal if the court wanted me to.' Defendants are selected by the county public defender's office and are usually close to high-school age. The cases often have such overwhelming evidence the defendants would have been urged to plead guilty anyway, said J.J. Kapp, Flores' defense lawyer and a supervisor "

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