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What Are The Common Types Of Court Hearings In A DUI Case?

Court proceedings involving the charge of driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of Arizona can be very complex and very long and involved.

In Glendale, Gilbert or the other communities of Maricopa County, it is important that you should consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Reach out by email today to arrange an appointment with an experienced attorney.

Misdemeanors Versus Felonies

In misdemeanor cases, defendant can often avoid appearing for arraignment hearing where the charges they face are officially entered into the court records. The DUI defendant’s attorney can appear on their behalf. If a defendant does not have legal counsel, the judge will advise the defendant of their right to be defended by an appointed counsel, as well as their other basic rights.

In felony DUI cases, a defendant is required to appear at their arraignment regardless of whether or not they have engaged the services of an attorney. At the arraignment hearing, a defendant is formally informed of the charges they face and a plea of not guilty is automatically entered on their behalf by the judge. Typically, the judge will not consider any conditions of release issues, such as whether or not the bond amount will be increased or decreased. Police reports regarding the DUI are usually provided to the defense attorney after the arraignment hearing.

A preliminary hearing is necessary in a case involving felony charges if an indictment has not been handed up by a grand jury. At a preliminary hearing, evidence is presented regarding the charges faced by a defendant and a judge issues a ruling as to whether or not there is sufficient evidence or probable cause to support those charges. If the judge rules that there is probable cause then the defendant is bound over to Arizona Superior Court for trial.

The First Hearing And Pretrial Motions

The first hearing before the judge assigned to a DUI cases is called a either a case management conference or a pretrial conference. At the case management conference/pretrial conference, your defense attorney may negotiate with the prosecuting attorney with an eye towards obtaining the best possible plea agreement for their client. The state is not required to offer a plea agreement, but if an offer is made, your attorney is required to discuss the details of the plea deal with you. After that discussion it will be up to you as to whether or not to accept or reject the plea agreement. A plea agreement might include a defendant agreeing to a lesser charge that may result in a reduced punishment. Also, the number of charges you face may be dropped and a proposed alternative sentencing scheme may be imposed.

Defense attorneys may also file pretrial motions at or before the case management conference/pretrial conference, which may result in a dismissal of charges or a change the position of the prosecution. After any pretrial motions have been filed with the court, an evidentiary hearing before the judge is scheduled where the judge hears testimony from witnesses, including law enforcement officers regarding the issues raised in the defense pretrial motions.

What Do Jury Trials Entail?

A defendant who has been charged with DUI, has the right to have the evidence regarding those charges considered during a jury trial. A jury trial normally proceeds in the following order:

  • Trials start with the jury selection process. During this process, the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorneys will ask the prospective jurors a series of questions designed to reveal strong biases, either for or against either side. Those people with strong biases will be removed from the jury panel. The prosecutor and the defense attorneys then have the right to remove a set amount of people from the remaining jury panel in order to reach the required number of jurors that will hear the case.
  • After the jury panel has been selected, the prosecutor, followed by the attorneys for the defendant will present opening statements. Opening statements are designed to outline each side’s theory of the DUI case and what they anticipate the evidence will show regarding the charges faced by the defendant.
  • Since the burden of proving the charges lies with the prosecutor, the first evidence heard by the jury will be in the form of testimony or exhibits designed to prove the charges. The prosecutor will first ask questions of the witnesses and the defense attorney will be afforded an opportunity to cross-examine those witnesses.
  • At the conclusion of the prosecution case, attorneys for the defendant may or may not present evidence. A defendant may testify, but the defendant is under no obligation to testify or call any witnesses to testify on their behalf or to counter the testimony of the prosecution witnesses.
  • After the conclusion of the presentation of evidence by the defense, the prosecutor has an opportunity to present additional evidence designed to rebut any evidence presented by the defense.
  • Once all of the evidence has been presented by both sides, the prosecutor and the defense attorney will present their closing arguments regarding the relevance of the evidence the jury has heard during the trial. The jury will then retire to the jury room in order to deliberate and reach a decision regarding the charges at issue.If a defendant is found guilty of any charges, the judge will set a sentencing hearing and order a pre-sentence investigation by the adult probation department.

It is important that your DUI legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.