DUI Preliminary Hearing
There are several stages of courtroom proceedings following a DUI arrest: the arraignment, the preliminary hearing, pre-trial motions, and the trial itself.
If you have recently been charged with drinking and driving, it is important to hire a qualified DUI defense attorney to walk you through the court process. Because DUI is one of the most complicated fields of law, you should look for an attorney who focuses exclusively on DUI defense.
The DUI preliminary hearing is basically a trial before your trial. During this hearing, the judge will decide if there is enough evidence against you to make you stand trial. The judge must also decide whether the legal standard of probable cause has been met. This means that the judge must determine if there is enough evidence in the case to convince a reasonable jury that you committed the crime with which you have been charged.
Both the prosecution and the defense present arguments to the judge during the DUI preliminary hearing. The prosecution may call witnesses to the stand and introduce physical evidence during this time. Your defense attorney may then cross-examine the witnesses and question the accuracy and reliability of the prosecution’s evidence. This assists the judge in determining whether there is probable cause and if the case can move to the trial stage.
Preliminary hearings do not occur in all DUI cases; in fact, most cases do not reach this stage because many people plead guilty during the arraignment. There are also many states that do not allow for preliminary hearings unless the defendant is charged with a felony. Some states use a grand jury indictment process, in which a group of people decide if the prosecution’s evidence is strong enough for the case to proceed to trial.
If your state permits preliminary hearings for drunk-driving cases, you should contact an attorney to help you. An experienced attorney will know which questions to ask during the hearing and how to put holes in the prosecution’s case against you. In some cases, your defense may be able to have your charges minimized or even dropped altogether.