Being charged with DUI (driving under the influence of drink or drugs) can be a life changing event. If it ever happens to you, it’s important that you understand the different stages of the charge. This is so that you and your lawyer can prepare yourselves for any eventuality. Having a better understanding of how each stage of the case will progress and how you can influence the course of action will help you to obtain the best outcome. When you understand the different stages of a DUI case, it can not only help you to prepare yourself for your case but also calm your anxieties.
The first thing that happens is the arrest. A police officer can arrest someone for DUI if they have probable cause. This means that they must examine the facts and circumstances. They use these facts to determine if they can conclude that the driver has committed a crime. If this is the case, they have probable cause to make an arrest.
Once an officer has arrested an individual, they take them into custody for booking. This stage involves recording information about the suspect. The officer will make a record of the suspected crime, check records for their criminal history and take fingerprints and photographs. They will also search the suspect and take their personal possessions from them until their release. The officer will then place them in a holding cell until a judge bails them, or they go to court.
Bail means that the suspect can pay for their release. This happens on the understanding that they promise to appear in court whenever required. The suspect can pay for the bail themselves, but if they are unable to afford it, they may be able to pay it through a bail bond agency.
At the arraignment, the defendant can appear in court for the first time. However, by now they should have hired a Tampa DUI lawyer, who may not have their client appear at the arraignment. The judge asks the defendant to submit a plea to the charges and may readdress bail and future court appearances.
A plea bargain involves the defense and prosecution meeting to try to come to an agreement to resolve the case. This often involves the defendant pleading guilty or no contest in return for lesser consequences.
In federal cases, a preliminary hearing is where the judge weighs up the evidence to decide if it is enough to support a trial.
The defense and prosecution address the judge before the trial to put forward motions. These motions include requests for evidence to be submitted or excluded. They also include arguments for and against a witness testimony.
During the trial, the defense attempts to convince the jury of a not guilty verdict. Meanwhile, the prosecution attempts to convince them to vote for a guilty verdict. There are several stages to a trial, from jury selection to verdict reading.
Finally, if the defendant gains a conviction through a plea bargain or a trial, a judge will sentence them. Sentencing for DUI cases often involves probation, alcohol treatment programs, fines and sometimes even jail.