Bay Area officer may face liability in “dirty DUI” scheme

A California police officer may face civil liability for his alleged involvement in a "dirty DUI" scheme, which was purportedly waged by a private investigator against a client's estranged husband in an effort to tarnish the man's reputation.

As reported by Courthouse News, the scheme involved setting up the husband by recruiting women to ply him with alcohol and then convince him to drive them to another location. The scheme was carried out successfully and the husband was arrested by the police officer who had allegedly been tipped off to the scheme and was lying in wait to make the DUI arrest.

The incident was later used in California family court to persuade a judge to limit the amount of time that the man was allowed to spend with his daughter, according to a federal complaint. The husband has filed a lawsuit against several parties in connection to the scheme, including his ex-wife, the arresting officer, and the city of Piedmont, California, where the arrest took place. The same private investigator was named as a defendant in a 2011 lawsuit filed by another man who claimed he had been similarly targeted.

While "dirty DUI" is certainly an exception to the norm, this story illustrates the unfortunate fact that corruption can and does occur in California, even among those who are sworn to uphold the law, and that criminal cases are not always as cut-and-dried as they may appear on the surface.

Protect your rights if questioned by police

With this in mind, it is critical for anyone facing arrest or criminal prosecution to take active measures to protect their legal rights and ensure that they are treated fairly at every stage of the investigation and prosecution.

One of the most important steps to take when arrested or charged with a crime in California is to contact a criminal defense lawyer right away - before answering questions or trying to explain the situation, even if you feel you have nothing to hide. As much as it may seem like a good idea to try to defend yourself on the spot when suspected of crime, especially if you know you have done nothing wrong, people who try to do so often find that their statements are used against them in ways they never expected.

If you are ever suspected of a crime, remember that the U.S. Constitution guarantees your right to remain silent, as well as your right to seek help from an attorney. A lawyer with broad experience in criminal defense can work with you to develop a strategy for your defense, and may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed.