DUI Court Process in California
You have been charged with a DUI under Vehicle Code 23152(a). Not only will you have to deal with the potential of having your driver's license suspended or revoked, you have been charged with a crime in the State of California.
Almost all DUI's are misdemeanor offenses, and they follow the same court process as any other misdemeanor. You need to understand how criminal cases work in California. The three main steps are the arraignment, pretrial conference, and the trial.
It's important to note that most DUI cases never go to trial. However, it's possible to win your case by having it dismissed before the trial. You could also reach an agreement to plea to a less serious charge.
Depending on the circumstances, you could be facing stiff penalties and imprisonment. The best decision you could make regarding your arrest is obtaining excellent representation by a skilled and resourceful DUI lawyer in order to come to a resolution that is as favorable as possible.
Outline of the California DUI Court Process
DMV Hearing – Once you receive your license suspension notice you will have 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing to address your license suspension only.
Arraignment – The arraignment is your first court appearance where you will enter a plea to the court regarding your criminal DUI charge.
You should normally plead “not guilty”. In this part of the process you will receive the formal complaint and any evidence being presented.
An arraignment is a short hearing with the judge when you will enter your plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere (no contest).
The judge will read the charges against you, but if are represented by an attorney, they will typically ask to waive this reading.
The judge will also read your legal rights, such as you have the right to a attorney and the right not to incriminate yourself.
In some DUI cases, the arraignment will also determine bail – which is money you pay the court as proof you will show up for your trial.
This is only required if you are to be held in custody, which is not common in DUI cases. Assuming you are enter a not guilty plea, and are going to fight the DUI charges, you lawyer will request discovery documents from the prosecutor.
These type of documents show the evidence against you. The judge will then set a date for your pretrial conference.
Pre-Trial Conference – This is where your attorney will meet with the prosecution and review evidence as well as negotiate any reduction or dismissal of charges. Your pretrial conference is normally a couple of weeks after the arraignment.
During this time is when you need to meet with your lawyer meet to review motions, court request, and go over anything that could help your case. Common pretrial motions include:
- Motion to dismiss the case for lack of evidence
- Motion to suppress evidence obtained illegally
- Discovery motion to obtain evidence from prosecution
- Motion to split blood or urine samples for independent test
- Pitchess motion to review prior misconduct by a police officer
The types of motions can help win your case without going further through the process, or they could reveal critical evidence.
The pretrial conference is where the Los Angeles County prosecutor could offer a plea deal. At this point, you could make an agreement to plead guilty for a reduced sentence or to a lesser crime.
The most common plea bargains for DUI in Los Angeles include:
- DUI with no jail time as long as you successfully complete probation
- Wet reckless (Vehicle Code 23103.5) conviction which is not a DUI charge, but alcohol related
In most cases, the best plea bargains are for first-time DUI cases. If you have a prior DUI conviction, a plea bargain is primarily to reduce jail time. In some case, it might be better to proceed to trial and try to win the case. Our DUI attorneys will advise you whether you should take your case to trial and if there is a chance of winning.
Trial – If needed, a trial will be conducted to question witnesses including the police officer. Fortunately, only a small percentage of DUI cases make it this far in the process. We will take your case all the way to trial if needed to get you the best outcome possible.
You need someone on your side that knows how to navigate the court system and pursue alternatives that can help get you the best result possible. Don't risk your future and your job by not having proper representation.
It is vital that we be consulted immediately upon your arrest and prior to your arraignment. We know how to examine the evidence, question witnesses and investigate the arrest. You need someone on your side that knows how to navigate the court system and give you advice on how to proceed with your best legal option.
Contact our Law Firm to Discuss the Case
Being arrested for DUI is a frightening experience and the court system can be very imposing and confusing. Although we can't predict the future we can utilize experience, skills and resources to pursue and negotiate the best defense possible for your circumstances.
We use various DUI defense strategies to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Don't leave it to chance. If you have been arrested for DUI Contact Cron, Israels & Stark and put their years of experience to work in defending your case.