Getting arrested and accused of driving under the influence can change your life in some surprising ways. Many people are unprepared for the way that the justice system has increased the minimum penalties for this offense in an effort to cut down on drunk driving fatalities. What might have led to a slap on the wrist in the past now has the power to put you in jail, take away your driving privileges and cost you thousands of dollars in fines and penalties. Knowing what to expect after your arrest can be helpful so read on to find out more.
Get out of jail
Being free is your first priority, and first-time offenders are usually able to be bailed out after an overnight stay. In some states, however, second offenses or cases involving accidents warrant felony charges and bail may not be as readily offered. You will likely appear before a judge soon after your arrest for an arraignment. This short meeting gives you the chance to enter a plea. You have the choice of pleading guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (no contest). A guilty plea is difficult, if not impossible to change later on, so your best course of action is a not guilty plea for the time being.
Plea bargains allow those arrested to plead guilty to a lesser charge and to be immediately sentenced. Your criminal defense law office will provide you with advice about whether you should accept a plea and forgo a trial or take your chances in front of a judge and jury.
Your first court date
You will find similarities between a DUI court case and most any other kind of case. It begins with opening statements, but some states skip this step altogether and go right to the testimony portion. If your case is held before a judge alone rather than before a judge and a jury then opening statements are not as common. You should know your rights in this regard since you may be able to insist on a jury trial if your attorney thinks it's a good idea.
Call the first witness
For DUI trials, there will be very few witnesses needed. Often, the arresting officer is the first person to be put on the witness stand, and they will be questioned about the arrest extensively. Your defense attorney may focus quite a bit of attention on the details of the stop, probable cause, field sobriety testing, and your arrest. The laws are strict in regard to those details and any one mistake by the arresting officer could put your arrest in question. You and any other witnesses may also be called to testify.
Closing the trial
If opening statements were given, then closings will be given as well, and the judge and/or jury will retire for deliberations. After a verdict has been reached, you will either be free to go or be sentenced. In some cases, the sentencing takes place at future date.
A great deal is on the line in a DUI case so make sure you get an attorney involved in your DUI case as soon as possible and see justice done.Share
11 September 2018
Growing up in a law enforcement family, I learned a lot about how arrests take place, what goes into investigations, and more. That gave me a really unique insight when it comes to criminal defense options and the areas where there may be vulnerabilities or loopholes that can be used in court. I've done a lot of research into the legalities of criminal defense as well, so it's allowed me to merge the two and create a site that offers a comprehensive look at criminal defense options and the court's expectations. It's always best to work with a lawyer, but having an understanding of the basics first will help.