A driving under the influence (DUI) charge can be devastating to your personal and professional life. The odds of it slamming you with heavy legal penalties will increase if you are unprepared for what is on the horizon. To gain an understanding and an expectation that can give you an advantage when attempting to retain your driving privilege and your own freedom, it helps to know the stages of a typical DUI case in California.
The average DUI case will pan out in these stages:
- Arrest: The start of your DUI case will begin with a DUI arrest. The police are permitted to make a DUI arrest for a variety of reasons, such as you were driving dangerously, you appear to be heavily intoxicated (probable cause), or your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is measured over 0.08%. The evidence collected in this initial stage will be crucial later on; try to pay close attention to everything that happens and remain silent until you get a lawyer.
- Booking: If you are arrested for a DUI, the next step is being taken back to the station to be booked. This is a straightforward process that involves getting basic information about you and the police actually filing the DUI charges. You do not benefit from trying to hide basic, identifying information from the police, like your name, date of birth, and physical address. This is information they can find on their own, so all you will do is slow things down if you refuse to cooperate.
- Release: After you are booked, you should be given a bail amount. Paying this set amount, which will vary depending on your own criminal history and the current charges, will allow you to walk “free” and go home. As long as you make all necessary court appearances, you will get your bail amount back at the end of your case, convicted or not. You may also be released without paying bail if the judge determines you are not a threat to society and this is your first offense.
- Arraignment: On your first court date, you will be arraigned. This process includes the judge reading your charges, asking if you would like to have an attorney appointed to your defense if you have not hired your own, and whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty. If new information has developed regarding your DUI, your bail amount could be increased. If you plead not guilty, the judge will then set future court dates for hearings or an eventual trial.
- Preliminaries: A not guilty verdict will lead to a preliminary hearing before anything else. A judge can toss out the charges during a preliminary hearing if there isn't enough evidence against you to justify taking the matter to a full trial. An experienced criminal defense attorney can be instrumental in arguing that the evidence is not reliable and convincing a judge to dismiss the case.
- Jury trial & conclusion: If your DUI case was not dropped or dismissed, it will go to a jury trial comprised of all the same steps of any other criminal trial. At the end, a jury will give a verdict of guilty or not guilty. After a guilty verdict, sentencing will be issued by the judge, and the defendant will have an opportunity to file an appeal to a higher court.
From start to finish, you can make your DUI case much easier on yourself if you retain criminal defense counsel. Call 805.994.0560 to connect with Wilfert Law P.C. and our Ventura DUI lawyers. We have former police officers on our team who have seen the DUI process firsthand a countless number of times. Put that intuition and insight into your corner by contacting us now.