An arraignment is the first court appearance, which is held before a magistrate or a judge.
At this hearing, the defendant is first officially advised of their charges and of the rights they have in defending against them.
For instance, all persons charged with an offense have the right to be presumed innocent, the right to have a fair trial, and the right to have an attorney of their own choosing represent them.
The defendant is also advised of the maximum possible jail term and other penalties such as license suspensions and fines.
Finally, a bond is set in an amount that’s determined necessary to ensure the defendant appears in court.
It may be a cash bond or a personal bond.
Oftentimes, the bond that was posted at the time of the arrest is imposed so that no additional bond is required.
However, if the magistrate discovers additional facts of importance, they may increase the amount of the bond.
They most likely will impose bond release conditions, including an order to refrain from the use of drugs and alcohol.
Additionally, they’ll impose random or daily drug and alcohol testing.
Because of all of this, it’s a good idea to have the attorney at this hearing. They can provide the magistrate with all of the necessary information and argue to ensure a reasonable bond amount and bond conditions.
It’s common that courts will permit a waiver of the arraignment during this part of the DUI court process with an attorney’s written appearance.
In which case, a personal appearance by the lawyer and defendant aren’t necessary.
For instance, if a person arrested for driving while intoxicated asks to speak to an attorney before taking the breath test and that opportunity isn’t given, the refusal can be ruled reasonable and the license suspension will not be imposed.
The purpose of a trial is for the prosecutor to prove whether a person is guilty of the crime they’re charged with.
If proof isn’t demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt, the defendant isn’t guilty and cannot be tried again for the same crime.
The defendant doesn’t have to prove anything, so it isn’t a hearing to be scared of.
It can strategically be used in a variety of ways.
If for any reason, the prosecutor cannot prove their case, obtain their witnesses, produce their evidence, or form a satisfactory foundation for the introduction of their evidence, it cannot be introduced or otherwise suppressed.
It’s important for the defense attorney to be creative and not scared of the process. We must embrace it and take advantage of it.
The trial begins with jury selection followed by opening statements.
The prosecutor will then present their witnesses.
Then, the defense lawyer will have the opportunity to question or cross examine each of them.
It’s the trial court’s responsibility to make sure everything is fair.
When a resolution has been reached between the prosecution and defense, a plea of guilty or no contest must be conducted before the judge.
At the hearing, the defendant must do three things:
Be advised of the maximum possible penalties for the offense to which the defendant is pleading.
Be advised of their trial rights should they choose not to plead guilty.
Admit the facts necessary to establish a factual basis.
On a DUI charge, one of these facts is the amount of alcohol consumed prior to driving.
It’s important that the defendant not minimize the amount if the BAC isn’t consistent with that amount.
For instance, if a person had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .14 and the defendant states they had two drinks, it will be seen as dishonest and not taking responsibility for the offense to which they’re pleading guilty.
Unless there’s a complete acceptance of responsibility, there cannot be an acceptable plea and it will not be received.
A plea to any alcohol related driving offense depends on the pre-sentence report and substance abuse evaluation pursuant to state law.
It usually will be completed by the probation department.
A no-contest plea is the same as a guilty plea, but without the need to establish a factual basis.
It can only be permitted if there was a lack of memory (which as we know, happens when people become drunk).
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