Arizona DUI: Step by Step Guide to CJ
The Pretrial Conference gave you and your attorney an opportunity to take a look at all of the evidence the State has gathered against you. It will give you a feel for how the case will proceed, should it go to trial, or whether you may want to consider a plea agreement.
With the advice of your attorney, you will generally take this opportunity to inform the court whether you would like to fight the charges or discuss settlement. If you choose to fight the charges, Craig and the rest of the team will carefully review your case to determine whether there are any issues that need to be brought to the judge's attention before trial.
If your rights were violated during the officer's investigation, or at any point, if there were any legal issues with the evidence, or even if the State is dragging its feet in bringing your case to trial, the evidentiary hearing is the point in the case where a judge can look at the issues and if she decides that your rights were violated, she may dismiss the case or penalize the State for its actions.
STEP 5 - Evidentiary Hearing
Remember back in STEP 1 and STEP 2 when we discussed the idea that an officer had to have reasonable suspicion in order to pull you over and probable cause in order to arrest you? Well, here is where those two issues may come into play. The evidentiary Hearing is a chance for your attorney to bring any legal problems with your case before the judge to either ask for sanctions, or possibly request a dismissal. If the State is unwilling to dismiss your case on its own, or is not offering a suitable plea agreement, the evidentiary Hearing is your attorney's best opportunity to get rid of the charges without going through a trial. While there are many issues that may be litigated during an evidentiary hearing, some of the big ones are the aforementioned reasonable suspicion and probable cause. If the officer did not have a valid reason for stopping you, and/or did not have sufficient evidence that you had committed a crime, and yet still placed you under arrest, those amount to serious violations of your rights and often result in a dismissal.
Your attorney will file written 'motions' with the Court, the State will respond with its own, and the hearing will then be conducted. Generally, the officers involved in the investigation will be called to the stand, in some cases, your attorney may present witnesses (though not very often) and once your attorney and the prosecutor have had a chance to present all of the evidence at issue, the Judge will decide whether to throw the case out or let it proceed to trial.
This is also a chance for you to get an idea of how things will proceed at trial. The officer will presumably offer the exact same testimony at the evidentiary hearing as he will at trial. (If he doesn't that's a HUGE score for your case and the stuff defense attorneys live for!) You can see how he does on the stand; his demeanor, his ability to handle cross examination by your attorney, how the Judge reacts to him and his story, and numerous other factors that will play an important role in the trial. The evidentiary hearing is like a mini trial in which you don't have to feel any pressure to testify.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will often take the matter under advisement, which means that he or she will take some time reviewing the evidence and relevant case law, before issuing an opinion. If the judge decides that your rights were violated he or she may also dismiss your case. If the judge decides your rights weren't violated or that the violation wasn't egregious enough, the case may proceed to the next step, the trial.
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.