If you have been charged with a DUI, your case can unfold in a number of ways and you and your lawyer can approach your sentencing from a few different angles. Before submitting any plea, be fully aware of all your options and their consequences.
What types of court hearings will I have and what are my options?
- Arraignment – At this hearing, the State doesn’t have to prove guilt.
You will appear before a judge who will state the charges against you.
You will enter your plea:
- Not guilty
This plea will lead to the Preliminary Hearing and then Trial.
You will have either entered into a plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney prior to seeing the judge or will be sentenced by the judge.
- No Contest
This means you are not admitting guilt but do not wish to go through with a trial and will accept the courts sentencing.
- Preliminary Hearing – The prosecutor will have to present sufficient evidence to convince the judge that they have “probable cause” to believe you committed the DUI. If there is not sufficient evidence the case will be dismissed.
- Trial – This hearing carries the highest burden of proof for the prosecution because they must now prove that you are “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
What happens if I plead guilty to a DUI?
If you plead guilty to a DUI charge, you admit responsibility to the crime without first trying to defend your situation. Having an experienced lawyer is vital in finding evidence to use in your defense against the charges. So, before you plead guilty and accept the immediate consequences, please consult an attorney and look into your defense options.
What is a plea bargain?
A plea bargain is where you make a deal with the prosecuting attorney to reduce the charges or lessen the penalties in exchange for a guilty plea rather than going to trial.
What happens if I plead NOT guilty to a DUI?
If you plead Not Guilty to a DUI, your case will be set for a Pre-Trial hearing, where the Prosecutor must convince the Judge they have enough evidence to pursue taking your case to Trial. Having an experienced DUI lawyer will be vital at this hearing.
Who should plead not guilty?
In many cases, with the proper defense strategy, a DUI charge can be reduced to a lighter charge and at times even be dismissed entirely. Having experienced representation is essential if you choose to plead not guilty.
Here are some examples of the reasons someone would enter a not guilty plea:
- They were involuntarily intoxicated; meaning they were drugged or unknowingly fed alcohol before driving.
- The car was driven under duress; that is, you were forced to operate the vehicle under the influence by physical force by another.
- You cooperated with the arresting officers and police at the scene of the crime and thereafter.
- A guilty plea and consequence will severely hinder your dependents’ livelihood.
- The arrest was made outside of the arresting officer’s legal duties, responsibilities or right course of action for a DUI supposition and arrest.
Hiring an experienced lawyer is not required, but it is essential to a smooth DUI case and experience.
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