When getting arrested due to a DUI, understanding how the trial itself will play out can help you and your attorney better determine whether you should or should not take a plea deal. This will also help give you peace of mind surrounding the entire process, especially if this is your first time going through the court system.
First, you’ll go through an arraignment hearing. This will usually be the first time you will have to make an appearance in court when it comes to a DUI case. It will take place almost immediately after being arrested and will be the thing that determines the charges brought against you as well as what your bail will be set at and the conditions from your release from jail. It will also be where you are appointed a public defense attorney if you have not hired one already. (To find an attorney in your area, be sure to visit hartlevin.com for a free consultation to learn more about your case.)
Either alongside the arraignment or as a separate hearing, the plea hearing is where you’ll plead either guilty, not guilty, or no contest. This is also where your attorney will help you determine what you should do as well as if they are willing to give you a plea bargain or not.
The Pretrial & Jury Selection
The pretrial and the jury selection have little to do with you. This is where, if a plea deal has not already been agreed upon, the attorneys will exchange the information they have before a jury of 12 people is decided.
On the day of the trial, both sides will appear before the court to argue your innocence or guilt before a jury. This is broken up into several sections, starting from the opening statement and ending with a verdict.
At the start of the trial, the opening statement is where both attorneys give a statement explaining why the defendant is or is not guilty, and what the evidence presented will reveal on the matter.
Presentation of Evidence & Testimony
The presentation of evidence & testimony is where both sides present all evidence they have either proving or disproving a DUI conviction is warranted. This can include a breathalyzer test, police footage, eyewitnesses, and any other information surrounding the event.
After all evidence has been presented from either side for the DUI trial, both attorneys give a closing argument either focusing on the defendant’s guilt or innocence. Generally, DUI cases benefit the most from closing arguments as, after all of the information has been presented, a defense attorney can emphasize any points to help humanize the defendant, thus potentially reducing their sentencing if convicted.
In the final part of the actual trial process, after hearing the closing arguments, the jury will go into deliberation, where they will determine the defendant’s guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. This may take several hours or days of deliberation as all 12 jurors must unanimously agree on the verdict.
After the jury has deliberated, and all 12 jurors are unanimous in their verdict, they will convene to announce the defendant’s guilt or innocence. If a verdict cannot be reached among the 12 jurors, the trial will be considered a “hung trial” and the trial process will begin all over again.
Filing An Appeal
Finally, whether you have been found guilty or not guilty, the side opposing the verdict will have the option of appealing the trial, provided they have a valid reason. This can range from a clerical error to misconduct amongst the jurors.
Essentially, an appeal asks the higher courts to look over the case to see whether the court’s initial decision should stand.
For more information on the legal proceedings, and to find a lawyer to help with your DUI case, visit hartlevin.com.