Arizona DUI: A Step by Step Guide to the System
If you're arrested for a DUI in Arizona, the justice system experience can be a confusing one. Even attorneys, less experienced in criminal law, get lost sometimes, so it's not surprising that when you are charged with a criminal violation, you might be somewhat overwhelmed.
One of the goals of a good attorney should be to educate his clients and keep them in the loop on the status of their case and all of their possible options at any given time. At the Penrod Law Firm, we take pride in our dedication to ensuring our clients are not left in the dark and in speaking to them in plain language without the use of legal jargon.
In an effort to help our clients through the muddy waters of the criminal justice system, we are publishing this step-by-step guide to the different stages of a criminal case. Should you have questions about any of the stages, feel free to contact our office, or speak with one of our staff members during your next appointment.
STEP 1 - The Stop
The Stop refers to your first contact with a police officer, after they believe you have committed some sort of violation. In a simple DUI case the stop happens either when a police officer observes you make an alleged traffic violation, or at a DUI Checkpoint. The United States Supreme Court, in the case of Terry vs. Ohio, ruled that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution does not require a police officer to have probable cause to stop a suspect, as long as he has a reasonable suspicion that a crime has take place. An officer has to have what is called "reasonable suspicion" in order to make you stop your vehicle to initiate contact. Reasonable Suspicion means that an officer has to reasonably believe that you have committed some sort of violation. That can be speeding, swerving over divider lines, broken tail lights, or any number of traffic violations. Once the officer stops you, he will begin his investigation, which will lead to an Arrest.
STEP 2 - The Arrest
Once an officer has gathered enough evidence to constitute "Probable Cause," she will place you under arrest. This is often signaled by advising you of your Miranda Rights. Probable Cause means that the officer can demonstrate that there is enough evidence against you to constitute a 51% likelihood that you have committed a violation. Once she believes that she has sufficient evidence, she can place you under arrest. This does not necessarily mean that you will be taken into custody. It is possible, and in many cases likely, that she will arrest and release you, issuing you a citation and sending you on your way with a court date, or making you arrange to have someone come and pick you up.
Once the arrest has been completed you will either be released into your own (or someone else's) custody, or you will be booked into jail. In most DUI cases, or many other misdemeanors, you will likely be released. You will be given a court date, and expected to show up in front of a judge. This first court date is called an Arraignment, or an Initial Hearing.
We will discuss the next steps in the system in the next article. In future articles, we will also come back and give practical advice for clients during each of the stages.
The Law Office of Craig W. Penrod has been involved in criminal and DUI defense for more than 25 years. Craig is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, is AV® rated, the highest rating by Martindale Hubbell®, is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®, and has been selected for inclusion in Southwest Super Lawyers™ Editions 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Contact the lawyers at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod for a free initial legal consultation if you find yourself facing criminal or DUI charges.