While being arraigned in a DUI case, you have the option to either plead guilty or not guilty. In many cases, a not guilty plea means that you will take part in a preliminary hearing. This is typically considered to be a trial before the actual trial takes place as a prosecutor can call witnesses, and your attorney will have a chance to cross-examine them.
Is there enough evidence to convict?
At a preliminary hearing, a judge will not decide whether you are guilty or innocent of the charge. Instead, he or she will determine whether there is enough evidence to reasonably believe that a jury might decide to convict you of the charge. If there isn’t probable cause to hold a trial, the charge may be thrown out right away.
A preliminary hearing isn’t a given
There is a chance that you won’t have to take part in a preliminary hearing as part of your legal process. This may be the case even if you enter a not guilty plea in court. In some cases, such a hearing may only be held if you have been charged with a felony. Alternatively, the case may be heard by a grand jury. The grand jury would then decide whether you should be required to stand trial on a DUI charge.
Plea bargains may be reached at any time
A plea bargain means that you plead guilty in your case. In return for a guilty plea, the prosecutor might choose to reduce the charge against you to something that carries a lesser penalty. It is also possible that you plead guilty to the original charge and receive a lighter sentence from the judge.
If you are charged with DUI, you may face a variety of penalties if convicted. For instance, you may spend time in jail or prison as well as pay a fine. An attorney may be able to help get a case dismissed during a preliminary hearing or at any point during a trial.