If you have been arrested for Driving under the Influence there are two cases. One is the Administrative Per Se Hearing (DMV) and the other is the criminal proceedings. Here we will be discussing the criminal proceedings.
If you are arrested for DUI, generally you will be taken to the county jail, booked, and sometimes spend the night in jail. Upon release they will give you a piece of paper for your first court date. That piece of paper you are given is very important as it will have all the information for the first court date, including what courthouse, the time to appear, and the department to appear in. You MUST go to that court hearing, or hire an attorney before to attend for you.
The first hearing is what we call the Arraignment hearing. In many counties you go to the first hearing, you find the courtroom and there will be a list of cases on the wall. If your name is on the list, you sit there and wait until the bailiff tells you what to do, or until they call your case, depending on the county. If your name is not on the list, this does not mean that you can leave and you will never be charged. If you know you are in the right spot, but cannot find your name on the list, wait there for your attorney, if your attorney is not there, or you don’t have one, talk to the bailiff or the court clerk to find out why your name is not on the list.
Sometimes, the District Attorney’s office has not filed on your case yet, because they don’t have all the evidence back. In many counties, if the chemical test used to determine your blood alcohol content was a blood test, the results take time, and thus the district attorney may not file the charges before that first court date. When this occurs, the court personnel will give you a new court date to come back, or in some counties, tell you to check your mail, as they have up to a year to file.
If you are on the list and your case is called you will be arraigned on the matter. When your case is called, the judge will read the charges against you, ask if you have an attorney, or need an attorney, and depending on the circumstances may appoint you a court ordered attorney. Next, the judge will ask you how you plea to the charges, guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The judge may decide any bail issues, and usually releases you with the next court date.
If you did not hire an attorney before the arraignment, but you think you may need one, you should contact an attorney right away for a consultation. There may be ways to defend your case, or reduce your charges down.
After the arraignment there will be preliminary hearings and pretrial motions. This is where the attorney will have the opportunity to negotiate a plea agreement, and if an agreement cannot be reached the case will proceed forward to trial.
If it goes to trial, the case will be heard in front a judge and a 12 person jury. The defense (us) and the prosecution will have an opportunity to present their case, and the outcome will be up to the jury. If you would like a further review of this information, or if you would like to discuss your case in detail with our DUI defense team then please visit our website to schedule your free consultation.