What to Expect for the DUI Court Case Procedure, Arraignment, and Possible Trial

What You Should Know First About The DUI Arraignment Procedure

DUI Court Case Procedure
DUI Court Case Procedure

Once an individual has been arrested, booked, and has gone through the initial bail phases of the criminal case process, the first of the courtroom based procedures takes place, which is known as arraignment. Many individuals who are arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) have never been through a criminal court case, and since they have no experience in the courtroom, they often do not understand how the process works. Often, during DUI cases, the arraignment is the first and last time individuals appear in court since most defendants in these types of cases choose to plead guilty, especially when the evidence against them is strong.

What Happens During Arraignment, and When Does It Take Place?

Even though the United States court system is always busy processing cases, individuals have a right to a quick arraignment. Once an individual is arrested for DUI, he or she is ideally arraigned within a few short days. Often, having this arraignment happen quickly helps to alleviate the stress and confusion the DUI defendant may be feeling, and this could potentially help the defendant get through the case more smoothly. During arraignment, the individual who is charged with drinking and driving is called before the court judge, who then proceeds to do the following:

  • Read the criminal charges against the individual, who is then formally known as the “defendant.”
  • Ask the defendant if he or she has legal representation or if he or she needs court-appointed representation.
  • Ask the defendant how he or she will “plead” to the charges leveraged against him or her – guilty, not guilty, or “no contest.”
  • Set the defendant’s bail amount or release the defendant on his or her “own recognizance.”
  • Set and announce the dates of any future court proceedings for the case, such as pre-trial motions, hearings, and the trial.

When Will a Defendant’s Attorney Receive Case Documents?

It is generally during the arraignment stage of the case that the prosecutor provides the defendant and his or her attorney with copies of the police report from the arrest as well as any other pertinent documents. Some additional documents the prosecution may provide include the lab reports from any breathalyzer or blood tests that were taken, any notes taken during law enforcement’s interaction with the defendant, and any other documents that may pertain to the defendant’s case. If there is any possibility of jail time, should the defendant be convicted, he or she has the right to a DUI attorney.

What You Should Know About The Possible Second Part of a DUI Case: The Trial

During a criminal trial, a jury examines evidence and decides whether the defendant in a case has committed the crime he or she is accused of. The trial is the government’s opportunity to argue its position in hopes of the jury finding the defendant guilty of the crime in question. The trial is also the defense’s chance to refute the charges against the defendant in the hope that the jury finds the defendant innocent. Once the prosecution and the defense have presented their arguments, the jury makes a group decision on whether the defendant is guilty.

There will typically be six phases in the DUI court case trial process, which include the following:

  1. Jury Selection – The very first step in a criminal trial is choosing the jury. During the “jury selection” period, the judge, prosecution, and defense question a pool of potential jurors. The questions they ask are general in nature or pertain specifically to the case being tried. Jurors are excused from the trial during this phase based on their responses.
  2. Opening Statements – Once the jury has been chosen, both the prosecution and defense offer their “opening statements” regarding the case. Witnesses do not testify at this time.
  3. Witness Testimony/Cross Examination – Once opening statements have been read, the prosecution calls its first witness to testify. Once this witness has testified, the defense has a chance to cross-examine the witness. The defense can then call a witness, whom the prosecution then cross-examines. This continues until all the case’s witnesses have testified.
  4. Closing Statements – Once all the case’s witnesses have testified and been cross-examined, the prosecution and the defense have an opportunity to present their closing statements or “closing arguments.” These statements are each side’s last attempt to persuade the jury to find the defendant either guilty or not guilty and often include an overview of the evidence.
  5. Jury Instruction – Once the closing statements have been read, the case moves into “jury instruction.” During this phase, the judge instructs the jury on the legal standards they need to follow when making their decision. The judge determines these legal standards based on the circumstances of the case as well as the charges against the defendant.
  6. Deliberation and Verdict – Once they have received the judge’s instruction, the jury deliberates the facts of the case and comes to a unanimous decision on whether the defendant is guilty. If the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision, the case may be thrown out or the trial begins again after selecting a new jury.

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