California is cracking down on drunk driving in order to protect its citizens on and off the roads. With stricter laws comes a complex court process for DUI’s along with those changes in regulation. This is where a DUI lawyer in L.A. can help.
First, it’s important to note that most charges for driving under the influence are misdemeanor offenses, which means that they will appear in the same court as any other misdemeanor. The process that is covered in this particular article applies to any California DUI unless it’s a felony charge.
Simply put, you can expect 3 main steps to the DUI cases that are being discussed:
– The scheduled arraignment.
– The scheduled pretrial conference.
– The scheduled DUI trial.
Another thing to note is that many DUI cases don’t ever go to trial because it’s possible to have it completely dismissed. Of course, the help of a skilled DUI attorney is vital to having a case dismissed any time before or during the scheduled trial. It’s even possible to reach a plea deal agreement beforehand to lessen your charge when you have the proper representation.
The Scheduled Arraignment
If you’re not familiar with the legal system, you might not know what an arraignment is. An arraignment is a quick hearing with a judge that establishes whether you’re pleading guilty or not guilty of the charges that you face.
The arraignment is also the time that the court will read the full charges against you. If you have the appropriate representation with you in court, your DUI lawyer should be there to ask the court to waive this to save you time. Your rights will be read, including the specific rights to a lawyer and to not incriminate yourself. These are staple steps to any case.
Sometimes, an arraignment can result in bail depending on the details of the case. This means that money is required to show proof that you’ll show up in court rather than being put in jail until your next date. Although it’s stated here, bail is typically uncommon for DUI cases.
However, if you have prior DUI charges on your record or if you’re case involves weapons and/or drug details, you may be required to post bail. Again, it’s always best to rely on a skilled DUI attorney in situations like these.
Another great thing about having an attorney already established for you is that if you’re unavailable to attend the scheduled date of the arraignment, your DUI lawyer can still represent you. It’s understandable that many people cannot attend; they have work, children, etc. Retaining a DUI attorney allows you to have flexibility in an otherwise compromising position.
Assuming that you plead not guilty and move forward with fighting your DUI charge, the next step would be to conduct research to build your case. This is also known as discovery. Your attorney will request discovery documents from the opposing prosecutor and begin constructing an aggressive legal strategy in your favor.
The Scheduled Pretrial Conference
The second part of the typical DUI court case is the pretrial conference. This takes place just a couple of weeks after the arraignment. It’s also the time when your lawyer would begin to file motions in your favor, meaning that your attorney will be requesting the court to take several different actions.
These motions may include:
– Motion to suppress evidence that has been gathered illegally or contaminated.
– Motion to dismiss the case altogether due to lack of evidence.
– Motion to split a blood or urine sample to perform independent tests.
– Motion of discovery to gather more evidence that the prosecutor has yet to turn over.
– Pitches motion to reveal disorderly conduct by an officer.
As you can see, having the appropriate representation can make all the difference in a DUI case in California. These types of motions among others can help speed up the process of dismissing or lessening the charges altogether.
The day of the pretrial is also the perfect time for prosecutors to offer defendants a plea deal. Again, everyone involved wants to make this process as clean cut and short as possible, even the prosecutors.
Typically, a prosecutor will present one of the two listed plea options for you to consider:
– Taking the DUI charge with no jail time and required probation.
– Taking a “wet reckless” charge, which means a non-DUI charge that is still alcohol-related would be on your record.
Of course, there are other plea deals that a prosecutor may present during the pretrial. Facing them alone can be much more difficult than with a DUI attorney on your side.
There is a lot of pressure to deal with, details to weigh, and your record to consider when discussing plea deals. Be sure to have the right representation to ensure you make your decision confidently or if your lawyer advises you to continue fighting in court if the chances are in your favor.
Sometimes, people get lucky! Cases have been dismissed during the pretrial for usually one of the two following reasons:
– The traffic stop or arrest was conducted illegally.
– Your DUI attorney has successfully trumped the largest piece of evidence from the prosecutor, showing no reason to move forward with the trial.
The Scheduled DUI Trial
Although there are countless cases that end up dismissed during pretrial, there are still plenty that continue to the scheduled DUI trial as well. This is the third and final step to a DUI case, so it’s not always advisable to make it to this step. Here’s why:
– The DUI trial is extremely stressful for the defendant and their loved ones.
– Trials are time-consuming, which can affect work and family life.
– You can never predict the outcome of the trial—it’s truly a debate of facts and evidence between the defendant and prosecution.
Don’t become too discouraged, though. There are certain situations where it truly is the best option for the defendant. Usually, you’ll be able to determine this with your attorney after discussing the details for your case.
Here is what you need to know about the trial itself: there are many different stages that take place on its own. These stages may include:
– Jury members being selected. Your lawyer has the opportunity to object to jurors who appear to be biased.
– The defendant and the prosecutor have a chance to make their opening statements.
– The prosecution will present its case first, then the defendant will defend themselves against the prosecution’s allegations. Whoever is a witness for the prosecutor can be cross-examined during this time as well.
– There’s always an opportunity to ask the case to be dismissed after the prosecutor has present their evidence. This could just happen if the evidence appears to be weak compared to the facts the defendant has presented.
– If the case is not dismissed, the jurors will then meet to decide upon a verdict. The judge will deliver the verdict (not the jury) in front of the whole court and its witnesses.
Here’s the scoop on the jury: all 12 jurors must agree that you’re guilty before the verdict can be met. Even if one juror stands defending your innocence in the jury room, they must come to an agreement before presenting the judge with their decision.
Although DUI cases have 3 main steps, there are several smaller details that must be attended to. Having an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer to defend you and help navigate this complex legal process can make all the difference.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, be sure to connect with your local DUI attorney as soon as possible!