If you are arrested for a DUI there are several things that you should do after the arrest. However, if you have the advantage of reading this article prior to that unfortunate event occuring several tips will be provided that will help if and when that incident occurs.
Stages of a DUI case
At the Law Office of Robert C. Smith, we strongly believe that an educated and prepared client can serve as an asset to his or her case. Understanding the stages of a DUI case and how the process works helps ease some of the anxiety and provides our clients with a realistic assessment of what to expect. Because we believe that prepared clients have an advantage over unprepared clients, we have included information relating to some of our client’s most frequently asked case questions below. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, you can depend on our law firm to keep you fully informed of every step in your case. To schedule a free consultation, contact our experienced attorneys at the Law Office of Robert C. Smith at 909-563-8644.
What are the stages of a DUI case?
The process for a DUI case can seem long and complicated, and it involves a multitude of steps. The process begins when an individual is arrested and can culminate in a dismissal, acquittal, reduction of charges, or a DUI conviction, depending on the circumstances of the specific case. The stages of a DUI case, though slightly different for every defendant, are as follows:
- Arrest – Once a police officer arrests an individual for driving under the influence, the DUI case process begins. A police officer has the legal authority to make an arrest based on probable cause. If a police officer can reasonably conclude that the suspect had committed a crime based upon facts and circumstances, then the police officer has probable cause to make an arrest.
- Booking – After an arrest is complete, the suspect is brought into custody for “booking.” During this process, the police officers record pertinent information about the suspect, such as his or her name, personal address, age, and physical characteristics. The officers then file a report of the suspect’s alleged crime, cross-check existing records to verify if the suspect has a prior criminal record, take fingerprints and photographs (”mugshots”) of the suspect, search the suspect for contraband, confiscate personal property for return upon the suspect’s release, and place him or her in a holding cell until an arrangement for bail has been made or the person is eventually brought to court.
- Bail – The bail process allows the suspect to pay for his or her release, with the understanding that the suspect promises to appear at all future court proceedings or is released on his or her own recognizance. If the suspect is unable to afford the bail, it is usually possible to arrange payment through a bail bond agency.
- Arraignment – The arraignment is the first time the suspect (now known as the “defendant”) can appear in court. For misdemeanor DUI cases, we almost never have our client appear on the arraignment date. At the arraignment, the defendant is informed of the charges against him or her. The judge will then ask the defendant to submit a plea to the charges that have been brought: “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.” The judge may then readdress the issues of bail and issue dates for future court appearances, if any.
- Plea Bargain – In a plea bargain, the defense and the prosecution will meet in an attempt to come to a satisfactory resolution of the case. Plea bargains often involve the defendant agreeing to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for less severe punishment. At our firm we are committed to serving our clients. If a plea bargain agreement is an option in your case, we will provide expert legal counsel on the pros and cons of such a decision.
- Preliminary Hearing – This applies to felony cases. At a preliminary hearing, a judge weighs the evidence against the defendant and decides if there is sufficient evidence to support a trial. The issue of guilt is not addressed. In many ways, the preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial, as the prosecution will introduce evidence implicating the defendant, and the defense attorney will attempt to convince the judge that the prosecution lacks the evidence needed to convince a jury of his or her guilt.
- Pre-Trial Motions – Before the trial begins, the defense and the prosecution address the judge and introduce motions. Typical motions include requests for evidence to be submitted or excluded, as well as arguments for or against a witness’s testimony. In essence, the pre-trial motion phase introduces “rules” by which both parties have to abide by during the trial.
- Trial – If a defendant pleads “not guilty” and no plea bargain is reached, then the case goes to trial. During the trial, the prosecution argues its case in an attempt to convince the jury that the defendant is guilty of the charges that have been brought against him or her. The defense counters the prosecution by presenting its own evidence to convince the jury to return a verdict or verdicts of not guilty. The trial process consists of several steps: jury selection, opening statements, the state’s case-in-chief, the defense case, closing arguments, jury instruction and deliberation, and verdict reading.
- Sentencing – If a defendant is convicted by either a plea bargain, or been found guilty by a judge or jury, then the punishment is determined during the sentencing phase. In a DUI case, the most common sentences include probation, attendance at alcohol treatment programs, payment of large fines, submit to future chemical testing, not driving without insurance, and in some jurisdictions jail.
What is a DMV hearing?
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, the police will confiscate your California driver’s license and give you a temporary permit. It is your obligation to contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest to request a stay of the suspension and arrange a DMV hearing. At the DMV hearing, a representative of the department will determine whether or not your license should be suspended. It is important to note that the DMV hearing is an administrative hearing and not a criminal proceeding. If you are over 21 and the DMV hearing officer finds that the police officer had probable cause to stop you for driving under the influence, your arrest was lawful, you either had a BAC of .08 or greater at the time of driving or refused a post-arrest chemical test, they have the right to suspend or revoke your driving privileges. However, in non-refusal cases, if your driving privileges have been suspended or revoked but you are formally acquitted in a court of law of driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, the suspension or revocation may be reversed.