THE DMV AND CRIMINAL COURT PROCESSES ARE SEPARATE! BE SURE TO CONTACT A NAPA DUI LAWYER WITHIN TEN (10) DAYS FROM YOUR ARREST SO THAT A DMV HEARING CAN BE REQUESTED. OTHERWISE, YOU MAY LOSE YOUR DRIVING PRIVILEGES.
The drunk-driving laws in California are some of the harshest in the nation. Thus, it is important that you contact a skilled Napa DUI attorney as soon as possible. When you are charged with drunk-driving in California, you often find yourself wondering what will happen next. Below, you will find an outline of the criminal process that follows a DUI arrest.
Once a driver is charged with DUI and taken to jail, the arresting police officer will send a written report to the District Attorney's office for review. The District Attorney's office will make a determination as to whether or not to hold the driver for an arraignment hearing or release said driver on his or her own recognizance (OR), with an arraignment hearing to be scheduled for a later date. If a driver is held for an arraignment hearing, one generally will occur within 48 to 72 hours after his or her arrest. If the driver was not held over for the arraignment and the driver is charged with a misdemeanor DUI, then a Napa DUI attorney can appear on that person's behalf. At the arraignment hearing, the judge explains the driver's constitutional rights and the pending charges that have been filed. The District Attorney will then recommend to the court whether or not bail should be required. Other motions are often filed at this time. The driver will then be asked to enter a plea before the court — not guilty or guilty. This is the time for setting pretrial court dates, which are generally scheduled for about two weeks later.
During the pretrial hearing, both sides may attempt to reach some sort of agreement. Basic evidence is presented at this time and the judge rules as to whether or not to move forward with the case. Your Napa DUI attorney will have the opportunity to cross exam witnesses at this time as well. If all matters are not resolved and the case is not dismissed at this time, then a trial date is set.
In most misdemeanor DUI cases, your Napa DUI attorney will be able to appear on your behalf at this hearing.
The DUI Trial
The final aspect of the criminal process is the DUI trial. It is important to note that a DUI case is just like any other criminal case. The prosecuting attorney must be able to prove that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If he or she is unable to do so, then the court or jury should rule that the defendant is not guilty.
A DUI trial may be held in front of (a) a judge or (b) a judge and jury. At the start of a jury trial, both sides will participate in selecting a jury. During the trial, the prosecutor will need to prove that you were in fact “driving a vehicle,” were intoxicated, and/or did violate California's Per Se laws. If the prosecutor is unable to prove these things, then most likely a skilled Napa DUI defense attorney will be able to obtain a “not guilty” verdict for you. As experienced Napa DUI lawyers, we have successfully challenged all of these issues and have obtained “not-guilty” rulings for our clients.
During the DUI trial, both the prosecutor and your Napa DUI attorney will examine witnesses, call experts to testify, and present relative evidence. Once both sides have presented their cases, closing arguments are heard. At this point either the judge or the jury will begin their deliberation. There is no real time limit when it comes to deliberation, but generally in such cases, determinations are made within just a few hours. If you are found guilty, the judge will determine what the appropriate penalties will be as set by law. Anything can occur in a Napa DUI trial, and thus, it is critical that you have a knowledgeable and experienced Napa DUI attorney representing your best interests.
Once a verdict is rendered, the sentencing phase of the criminal process begins. Your Napa DUI lawyer may at this time present evidence and argue for minimal or alternative sentencing to be imposed. Any number of things can occur at this time. The judge may sentence you to jail or put you on probation for a certain period of time with requirements of having to attend alcohol classes, install an ignition interlock device, etc.
In many DUI cases, there are sentencing alternatives available that allow convicted DUI offenders to stay out of jail or prison. It is important to note that not all Napa criminal defense lawyers are aware of the many sentencing alternatives available. We, however, have been successful in helping our clients avoid jail time by obtaining such alternative sentences as:
- Probation (with or without community service)
- Community service
- Admittance into an alcohol or drug rehab program
- Admittance into a sober-living program
- Electronic monitoring
- City jail, rather than prison
- Work furloughs
You have the right to appeal the ruling in your DUI case. However, note that you may have to go through the entire trial process and may even have to obtain a different Napa DUI attorney who specializes in DUI appeals.
Lastly, when it comes to DUI cases, there are many technicalities involved that the average individual simply will not know. Your best defense is hiring a highly-skilled and experienced DUI attorney who knows all of the ins and outs and who can help you obtain the best possible outcome. We offer online Napa DUI case reviews. Contact us today to discuss your legal options!