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Sean F. Leslie, Attorney at Law
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Sean F. Leslie, Attorney at Law
Sean Leslie

1808 Aston Ave., Suite 240
Carlsbad CA 92008

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Alt. Phone: (760) 420-9841

Sean F. Leslie, Attorney at Law

Sean F. Leslie

I am a successful criminal lawyer and dui attorney with over 20 years of experience in the courtroom and experience as a former law enforcement police officer. I am proud to represent those individuals prosecuted by governmental agencies and accused of crimes.

I have been an active member of the California State Bar since 1990 and have been admitted to practice in the United States District Court Southern District of California since 1991. I received my Juris Doctorate Law Degree from the University of San Diego School of Law (USD) in 1990 and graduated from San Diego State University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration.

Please Call: 1-877-579-0380

I know that if you are looking for a criminal lawyer or dui attorney for yourself or a loved one, you are seeking results. Furthermore, if you do not have confidence in your criminal lawyer, you will never have confidence in the outcome or results he or she obtains for you. That is why I am "Committed to Excellence" to serve your needs and obtain your results.

In my criminal defense and dui practice, I have been able to obtain noteworthy outcomes at trial in serious felony and misdemeanor cases including murder, manslaughter, rape and driving under the influence (DUI) and have negotiated hundreds of plea agreements, many of which have been remarkable in their own right.

Please Call: 1-877-579-0380

I have also persuaded prosecutors to NOT FILE charges against my clients on numerous occasions and have obtained many dismissals as a result of unlawful search and seizure challenges under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. I have successfully handled hundreds of criminal cases from minor crimes-infractions; to mid level crimes-misdemeanors (DUI); and serious crimes including all felonies from drug possession, burglary, manslaughter, murder and a Capital [Death Penalty] Case.

In addition to pursuing and aggressively fighting to obtain justice for my clients, I have worked hard to promote justice for all people. I have served as a Judge Pro Tempore in the San Diego Superior Court and have participated in many volunteer court programs-On My Honor, Law day and others. I am proud to serve my profession and my community by fostering professionalism in the court on behalf of my clients. I have been a member of many Criminal Defense and Civil Litigation Organizations locally and abroad- CBA, ABA, ATLA, CPDA, CACJ, BANSDC, PCC, SDCBA and NACDL. As a criminal defense attorney, I have also served as President/Chair of the local criminal defense bar association and Board of Directors for the Lawyer Referral Service [LRS] and the North County Bar Association. I find it a privilege to represent individuals accused of crimes and DUI cases.

Please feel free to contact my firm and talk with me or another criminal lawyer or dui attorney with any criminal defense or DUI legal questions that you may have. I take personal responsibility in my firm's "commitment to excellence" in obtaining a favorable result on your case at any of the court locations in San Diego County including San Diego, Vista, El Cajon or Chula Vista . I look forward to hearing from and meeting you soon. Once again, thank you for consulting with my law firm for your legal representation.

Please Call: 1-877-579-0380

About Us



At the Law Firm of Sean F. Leslie, we, as criminal defense attorneys, thoroughly understand that your criminal defense or DUI case is one of the most important matters pending in your life and will constantly be a serious concern on your mind.

As an experienced criminal lawyer and criminal defense attorney, I personally, and we as my firm, feel and share your concerns and make every effort to alleviate your stress and ease your worries. We return all phone calls and emails promptly! Usually the same day and definitely no longer than 24 hours! Although we are extremely aggressive in our legal representation, we offer you and your loved ones compassion for the unfortunate predicament that you or they are in. We do more than just hear you, we listen and understand!

My firm specializes in humanizing its clients to prosecutors and to create a believable and likeable case that separates you from all the other criminal and or DUI defendants. Whether your case is a misdemeanor, felony or DUI, you can rely on my firm and the experienced criminal lawyers and DUI attorneys and staff to thoroughly present your case in a favorable light to obtain the very best outcome.

I have been a criminal defense attorney since 1990 and my firm has been in practice since 1993. After 18 years of handling hundreds, if not thousands, of criminal defense and DUI cases, I can honestly say that I have an intimate knowledge of the criminal and DUI courts and the players involved therein. This knowledge combined with my "commitment to excellence" and the relationships fostered in the legal arena will undoubtedly always benefit my clients' interest in achieving more than just a satisfying result.

Please feel free to contact my firm and talk directly to an experienced criminal lawyer and or dui attorney with any criminal defense or DUI legal issues you may have. I take personal responsibility in my firm's "commitment to excellence" in obtaining a favorable result on your case at all court locations in San Diego County including San Diego, Vista, El Cajon and Chula Vista.

I look forward to hearing from and meeting you soon. Once again, thank you for consulting with one of the criminal lawyers at my law firm for your legal representation.

Practice Areas

Criminal Defense


Criminal Defense Attorney & DUI Lawyer

At the Law Firm of Sean F. Leslie, I as a criminal lawyer and DUI attorney, and we as my firm, provide aggressive, experienced, affordable, and skilled legal representation to all persons and businesses that are either under criminal investigation for State or Federal crimes or have already have been charged with committing a crime in San Diego County.

I also handle many post conviction matters including motions to withdraw guilty pleas, motions to reduce felony convictions to misdemeanor convictions, motions to modify probation, appeals and expungements.

My firm is dedicated to protecting your life, liberty, freedom and constitutional rights. The criminal process is a confusing labyrinth of court hearings, motions, and negotiations with gung-ho prosecutors and judges. Let me, as your criminal defense attorney, confidently guide you through this complicated process and handle all aspects of your criminal or DUI case to achieve a favorable result!

As I am a successful and reputable criminal lawyer and dui attorney, my law firm is not a "mill" or a "1-800" law firm! I am personally involved with each and every criminal defense and dui case that comes into my firm. With over 20 years of criminal defense experience and law enforcement background as a police officer, my firm will investigate your criminal or dui case, keep you informed of all developments, and create a successful case strategy! Simply, my law firm knows how to evaluate the particulars of a criminal defense and DUI case and is able to competently handle all the legal issues and hurdles that may arise.

My firm has a "commitment to excellence" to each client and we offer our criminal defense clients individual and specialized legal representation when accused of misdemeanor and felony crimes including:

Assault with a deadly weapon Possession of firearms
Concealed weapons Drug possession & sales
Assault and battery Traffic violations
Drunk driving offenses Driver's license revocations & suspensions
Reckless driving cases Hit-and-Run cases
Driving on a suspended license Drunk in public
Sex crimes, including DNA testing Rape & molestation
Forgery cases Forgery of checks
Strike cases (3 Strikes) Fraud & embezzlement
Quasi-criminal matters, including licensing issues involving occupational boards, professional boards, and government administrative boards Murder/Homicide/Manslaughter
Vehicle manslaughter Violent crimes
Theft crimes Burglary cases
White collar crimes Juvenile crimes
Internet crimes Domestic violence
Misdemeanor crimes Felony crimes
Federal crimes Search and seizure issues
Bail reduction & O.R. release Appeals
Probation & Parole matters Sentencing matters, including modification
Pardons Cleaning up your criminal record
Expungement of your conviction Sealing an arrest record
Recalling bench warrants Probation revocations
Early termination of probation Extradition Issues
Restraining order violations Warrants
Withdrawal of guilty pleas

Please remember that as a criminal defendant in our legal system, you, your friend, or your family member is always INNOCENT until proven guilty, and it is up to the prosecution to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all criminal charges. Let me and my firm, as your criminal defense attorney, protect your rights and freedom and hold the prosecution to their burden!

If you are under investigation as a suspect in a crime or have been charged with a crime anywhere in San Diego County including, Vista, Carlsbad, El Cajon, Chula Vista, Encinitas, Oceanside or San Diego, then let me as an experienced criminal lawyer and dui attorney defend you and protect your rights under the criminal justice system!

Please call the Law Firm of Sean F. Leslie at (760) 579-0380 and ask to speak with me, or you can contact us online to request your free consultation. I look forward to speaking with you.

Criminal Process


The criminal process begins when law enforcement suspects you are engaged in criminal activity or have committed a crime. Police officers and detectives investigate crimes that are reported to their departments usually via 911 emergency calls. Except for traffic and driving under the influence (DUI) cases, the majority of crimes [murder, manslaughter, shootings, stabbings, fights, hit & runs, thefts, drug possession & sales, violent crimes, domestic crimes, assault & battery, rape, child molest, sex crimes, animal cruelty] are not committed in the officer’s presence.


In addition, police officers can detain you if they have reasonable suspicion based upon articulable [specific] facts that you are committing a crime in their presence. A prime example is a vehicle traffic stop by an officer to issue a citation for speeding or to determine if the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) due to some observed violation of the vehicle code. A person is not free to leave when being detained by law enforcement but the detention must be no longer than necessary to handle the reason for the stop, i.e. to issue a citation. Remember, a “consensual encounter” is different than a detention and you are free to walk away from an officer or leave the area if the police contact is only a consensual encounter.


If you are under investigation by law enforcement for a crime that was reported you do not have to participate or cooperate in their investigation. Neither do your family or friends. Law enforcement investigation techniques can include audio and video surveillance, pretext calls, wiretaps, under cover operations and good old fashioned interviews to obtain statements, admissions and or confessions. An officer or detective may call you on the phone, show up at your home or work, or meet you in a public place to talk to you. They will ask you to provide a statement or to just give your “side of the story”-DON’T TALK and invoke your rights!

Politely tell the detective or officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present under the 5th and 6th Amendments. Also, please see my link to the “Invocation of Rights” form that you can print, sign and hand to any and all law enforcement personnel who contact you during a criminal investigation. Again, DON’T TALK or give a statement to law enforcement even if they tell you that “you are not a suspect”, “we won’t arrest you” or “we will let you go home today!” Law enforcement officers can lie, fabricate and or use “ruses” to get you to volunteer information or make a damaging statement. For example, how do you explain that we found your finger prints inside the burglarized home? When your prints were never found!


You will be arrested and most likely searched if “probable cause” exists that you have committed a crime. Your vehicle and the immediate area can also be searched incident to this arrest. Once arrested the officer will handcuff you and put you in the back of his patrol unit to transport you to the local police station. On the way to the station or at the station the officer will read you your “Miranda Rights” or “Miranda Warnings”:

  • You have the right to remain silent;
  • Anything you say can and will used against you in a court of law;
  • You have the right to an attorney; and
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you.

The officer will then ask you if you understand these rights to which you should respond “yes.” Then the officer will ask you something similar to, “with these rights in mind will you talk to us?” Your answer will be “NO,” not without my lawyer. Miranda Rights or “warnings” are not always given and are only required to be read to the arrestee if the arresting officer is going to ask you questions while you are in custody [custodial interrogation]. Accordingly, the rights do not protect you if you volunteer information or blurt out any statements that are not in response to a question.

Depending on the charge you will either be issued a citation on your promise to appear in court or booked into county jail where you will stay unless you bail out. The bail amount will be set according to the local bail schedule and will remain at that amount until your first court appearance, the arraignment. [See my BAIL page for information on bail.] Immediately consult with and hire a private criminal defense attorney if you bail out of jail so an investigation and case preparation can be completed before the arraignment. If you are not immediately arrested by the detective or officer, then you may receive a “notify letter” from the prosecutor’s office stating that charges have been filed against you and that you must appear in court on a specific date and time for arraignment. A bench warrant will be issued for your arrest if you fail to appear on or before the court date.


An arraignment occurs within a few days if you are in custody or usually within 30 days if you bail out and are not in custody. The arraignment is a “critical stage” of the criminal process. As such, you are entitled to have a public defender appointed to represent you if you can not retain [hire] your own private criminal defense lawyer. At the arraignment you will be notified of the charges filed against you in a formal misdemeanor or felony complaint. Much of the time, the charges filed by the prosecuting agency are different than the charges you were arrested and or booked into jail on. If you retain a private criminal defense lawyer and your case is filed as a misdemeanor, then he or she can appear for you without you being present at the arraignment. However, your appearance is mandatory if a felony complaint is filed or on certain misdemeanor charges, i.e. domestic violence, spousal abuse.

Your criminal defense attorney will do most of the talking at the arraignment. He or she will inform the judge that their Law Firm has been retained making a general appearance and that you have been advised of your Constitutional Rights. Your lawyer will enter not guilty pleas to the charges and deny any and all special allegations on your behalf. A readiness conference date and a preliminary hearing [felony cases] date will be set. Bail issues will be briefly argued if needed to lower your bail. The judge will consider whether you’re a “flight risk” [ties to the community] and or a “public safety” concern [criminal history/record]. He will then decide to keep bail as set, lower the bail amount or release you on your own recognizance. However, the prosecutor can also request the judge to increase your bail amount at the arraignment. A formal bail review hearing can be scheduled within two days after the arraignment if the judge’s decision is not favorable.


Prior to the readiness conference date, your criminal defense lawyer will provide you with all the police reports and evidence [discovery] the prosecution has in their possession and should meet with you to organize a strategic game plan for the hearing. If your criminal lawyer or public defender does not provide you with a copy of the discovery or meet with you prior to the first readiness conference, then you should hire another lawyer!

At the readiness conference, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to dismiss the case or reduce the charges [charge bargaining] and negotiate with the judge to lower the sentence [sentence bargaining]. Simply, the readiness conference is a plea bargaining hearing where both sides, the defense and prosecution, argue with each other and the judge to reach a favorable plea bargain or disposition. Your case will not proceed to a preliminary hearing if it settles at the readiness conference. It’s not uncommon to have more than one readiness conference before going to a preliminary hearing.


On felony cases, a preliminary hearing will take place if the case does not settle at a readiness conference. A judge, after hearing testimony from police officers, witnesses and or alleged victims, will decide whether enough evidence was presented to hold you to answer on the charges in the complaint. Your criminal defense attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine the prosecutor’s witnesses and put on any witnesses to establish an affirmative defense, negate an element of a charge or to attack the credibility of a prosecution witness. The burden on the prosecution at this hearing is not to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt as in a jury trial but to show the judge the strong suspicion in the guilt of the accused [you] in the crimes charged- a probable cause standard. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing your attorney may argue that the evidence presented by the prosecutor was insufficient to show that a crime was committed and or that you had something to do with it. You and your lawyer for tactical reasons may decide to waive your right to a preliminary hearing and not have one.


The prosecutor will file a felony Information containing the charges the judge held you to answer [bound over] on at the preliminary hearing. This post preliminary hearing arraignment is now usually done immediately after the preliminary hearing where the prosecutor will ask the judge to deem the felony complaint an “information” on the charges the judge found probable cause. Your criminal defense lawyer will “arraign” you on the charges similarly to the first court appearance entering pleas of not guilty on all counts and denials of all special allegations. Future dates will be set for readiness conferences, motion cutoff and trial. From this date up to trial, your defense lawyer will discuss your case and continue to negotiate on your behalf with the prosecutors and judges at pretrial conferences in an effort to resolve your case. This may include a less serious charge, an agreement on a lesser punishment and or dismissing some of the charges in the information. Each case is different and has its own strengths, weaknesses and tactical strategies to negotiate.


Eventually, a trial will commence if your case does not settle. In misdemeanor cases you have a speedy trial right to be brought to trial in either 30 or 45 days if you do not waive time for trial. Similarly, in felony cases you have a speedy trial right to go to trial within 60days of your second arraignment. At trial, a jury pool of community members will be empanelled of which the prosecutor and your criminal defense lawyer will do their best to select twelve impartial jurors through the Voir Dire process. The trial can last from one day to numerous months depending on the charges and consists of pre trial motions, opening statements, witness & expert testimony, evidence introduction, cross-examination and closing arguments. The prosecution has the burden to prove to all twelve jurors unanimously that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as to each charge.

The jury will find you not guilty if the prosecution fails to meet this high evidentiary burden. As a criminal defendant, you have the presumption of innocence and do not have to prove you are not guilty! A mistrial is declared by the judge if the jury is deadlocked and can not reach a unanimous decision. Your case is then usually dismissed or settled for a much lesser charge and or sentence. Unfortunately, the prosecution has the option of retrying the case when a mistrial is declared and the judge won’t dismiss it!


If you plead guilty to a charge or the jury convicted you of a charge, then you will be sentenced. On misdemeanor cases sentencing usually occurs at the time your criminal defense lawyer settles your case. The judge will place you on informal court probation and impose various terms and conditions depending on the crime which now includes draconian fines! For example, DUI fines are now over $2,000.00. On felony cases, a sentencing hearing is set out about 30 days, or more if you waive time, so the probation department can prepare a sentencing report and recommendation to the judge. At the hearing, unless it was a stipulated disposition, your lawyer will argue for the lowest punishment and most likely, the prosecution will argue for the maximum punishment. The judge will either put you on formal probation with the probation department and may impose up to one year in local jail or sentence you to state prison. Other sentencing alternatives include residential drug programs, counseling programs, work furlough and release programs and community service. Sentencing conditions are in the wide discretion of the judge and will not be disturbed on appeal unless they are not reasonably related to the crime.


A motion to withdraw your guilty plea and motion for new trial can be filed by your criminal defense lawyer to set aside the conviction. Many times, defendants are not adequately informed by their inexperienced lawyers before accepting a guilty plea and or are not adequately advised of the sentencing consequences. For example, by not advising a client that the DMV will suspend or revoke their driving privilege for one year based upon their court conviction. Collateral consequences that may be imposed by a judge can include registration as a sex offender, gang member and narcotic user.

Likewise, a new trial motion requests the judge to set aside the conviction and set a new trial based upon errors that occurred during trial including improper admission or exclusion of evidence or misconduct on the prosecutor. In addition, your defense attorney can file a Notice of Appeal to appeal your conviction to a higher court [Appellate] on many basis including denial of due process of law; trial judge made legal evidentiary errors during trial or gave improper jury instructions to the jury, and or sentencing errors, just to name a few.


Your criminal defense lawyer may also request the judge to modify your terms and conditions of probation. Usually, if you have complied with probation for a length of time and you can no longer fulfill a condition of probation due to changed circumstances your lawyer may convince the judge to either modify the term or terminate it entirely as a condition of probation. Also, if you complete probation your attorney can file a motion to request the judge to reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor, if applicable, and then “expunge” the conviction off your record. An expungement dismisses the charges and can be extremely beneficial for those seeking employment!

If you are sentenced to prison and are conditionally released, you will be under the authority of the Department of Corrections on parole under the supervision of a parole officer. Parole terms vary from 4 years up to life depending on the crime you were convicted. Parole terms can also be modified or deleted if they are not reasonably or related to the crime.


Each and every jurisdiction has a slightly different criminal process depending on many factors and whether your case is filed as misdemeanor or felony. Please contact my firm and talk with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the particular jurisdiction of your case and who is committed to excellence in aggressively protecting your interests and constitutional rights.

DUI Representation


Experienced & Effective DUI Representation

The Law Firm of Sean F. Leslie has a great deal of experience representing clients in Carlsbad, San Diego, Vista, Escondido, Encinitas, Vista, Oceanside and the other cities of San Diego County in matters involving driving under the influence (DUI), driving on a suspended license, and all other traffic violations. My law firm also represents many clients who live outside San Diego County and outside California that come to visit our many local attractions and find themselves, unfortunately, being arrested in this county.

I have a special insight when it comes to representing those accused of driving under the influence and other traffic violations because of my previous law enforcement patrol officer background. Also, having practiced criminal law in San Diego County since 1993, my law firm is extremely knowledgeable about the law enforcement agencies and the individual police officers that conduct the majority of DUI and traffic arrests within San Diego County.

The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of a prescribed medication or a controlled substance can be very severe—even if this is your first arrest and charge for a DUI offense. Penalties can include:

  • Enormous fines
  • Mandatory license suspension
  • Jail time
  • Participation in programs for alcohol treatment
  • Work projects
  • Community service

DUI and other traffic offenses can affect you financially—not only with expensive fines and program fees, but your insurance carrier could dramatically increase your premiums for a number of years if you are arrested and/or convicted of a DUI or another kind of traffic violation.

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (drunk driving), driving on a suspended license, or any other traffic violation, my Law Firm can and will protect your interests. I am an experienced criminal defense attorney, and I can help you avoid getting your license suspended or—at the very least—help you get "restricted" status so that you can drive to your place of work.

My law firm is committed to excellence, and we will fight for your rights in court and at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). We will offer you experienced counsel regarding the way the legal system works. My law firm will also use solid & proven strategies that work so that you can resume driving while ensuring that your insurance premiums and license status are only minimally affected—if at all.

Please contact us online or call the Law Firm of Sean F. Leslie at (760) 579-0380 to discuss your options with an experienced DUI and traffic violations lawyer. Your initial consultation is FREE.

Carlsbad CA Criminal Defense Lawyer

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