The DUI process can be emotionally draining and stressful, especially when you don’t know what to expect. The Albuquerque DUI attorneys at Simon A. Kubiak, Attorneys at Law, PC, strive to alleviate some of the stress our clients feel by advising them on what the DUI prosecution process entails. Though every case is unique and therefore likely to present unexpected challenges, you can benefit by reviewing the outline below.
Arrest and First Appearance
The first and most obvious step of any DUI process begins with an arrest for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Following the arrest, the courts will arrange for your first appearance, which typically takes place by video while you’re still in jail. During this hearing, the participants—who typically consist of the prosecution, your attorney, a judge and, of course, yourself—will decide on bail and the conditions of your release. Your case will then be set for arraignment.
In most cases, the arraignment is merely a formality in which the defendant appears before the court to plead not guilty. Because of this, most judges will allow defendants to waive the arraignment. A Waiver of Appearance, which your attorney can file on your behalf, includes a not-guilty plea.
Pre-Trial Process and Deadlines
After your arraignment or the filing of the Waiver of Appearance, the pre-trial process will begin. This process involves a number of crucial deadlines you don’t want to miss, such as discovery deadlines. Discovery involves submitting the evidence you plan to use to suggest your innocence or, in the prosecution’s case, evidence that may suggest your guilt. Though timelines vary from case to case, in DUI cases, the state and defense have 30 days from arraignment to submit documentary evidence and witness testimony.
Next up are the pre-trial conferences, during which each attorney has an opportunity to update the judge as to the status of the case. Attorneys can also use this opportunity to address missing discovery, uncooperating witnesses and other grievances. If police officers, who are notorious for trying to avoid the discovery process, fail to cooperate with interviews, the courts may issue subpoenas.
Plea Negotiations, Trial and Sentencing
As the pre-trial proceedings ensue, the District Attorney may offer you a plea deal. An experienced DUI defense lawyer may negotiate for a better deal on your behalf and/or advise you of whether or not you should accept a proffered deal. If you decide to take a plea, you will enter your plea at a plea conference or during the next trial setting. If you choose not to accept, however, you will go to trial. If you win at trial, you go home without any consequences.
If you lose at trial, on the other hand, your case will proceed to a sentencing hearing. In addition to referring to the state’s sentencing guidelines, the judge will also consider the recommendations of the probation officer, your attorney, the District Attorney and the probation department. Judges in DUI cases are also free to use their own judgment when sentencing DUI offenders.
Your First Step: Contact an Attorney
The first thing you should do after a DUI arrest is contact an Albuquerque DUI attorney. With a skilled lawyer on your side, you have a better chance of obtaining a reduced or deferred sentence or, in the best case scenario, dropped charges. Contact the lawyers at Simon A. Kubiak, Attorneys at Law, PC, to schedule your initial consultation today.