Information On The DUI Process
Each DUI case has the same basic format; for this reason, it is vastly important that you do not hesitate to contact a Gainesville DUI lawyer to guide you through the process. Without legal counsel to help you through the DUI process, you can become overwhelmed and confused about your situation. The Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson is ready to take charge of your case from the moment of your arrest. We understand the confusion associated with the DUI process and are ready to answer any questions that you might have. The stages of DUI are as follows:
Generally, there are two ways that you can be stopped for DUI: being pulled over by an officer who observes something that may indicate driving under the influence or at a routine traffic stop when all of the cars at the road-block are being stopped and checked. When you are pulled over for what a law enforcement officer believes is suspicious activity, you will likely be asked to perform a field sobriety test; you do not have to consent to this. These are designed to make you appear intoxicated even if you are not. If you are stopped at a road-side DUI checkpoint, the officer has not observed any poor driving. In this case, the police have to establish probable cause to arrest you - usually by utilizing these tests designed to incriminate.
If the officer decides to charge you, you will be arrested and taken to the police station. At the station, you will be given a blood test and/or a breath test. These tests are mandatory. You will then be "booked," which will include fingerprinting, a photograph, and potentially having your license confiscated at this time. Once you have been "booked," you will either be released on your own recognizance or you may have to post bail to get out of jail. You will be given paperwork that includes your citation and your first court date. If you had to post bond, your court date will be included with those documents also.
The arraignment, the first official hearing, is when you are formally charged. At this time, you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Many individuals without representation plead guilty and stop trying to fight their DUI charge, even if they feel that are not guilty. If you haven't already done so, this is a crucial time to enlist the help of the legal team at the Law offices of Richard S. Lawson. An experienced attorney from our firm can represent you at the hearing even without you being present. If you decide to plead guilty at this hearing, your license will be suspended. If you plead not guilty, your legal team must act quickly to file the necessary motions to suppress at or before your arraignment. These motions help eliminate evidence that could help the prosecution build their case. It is critical that you have legal representation at this point so that you do not waive your right to file the motions in your case. Finally at this hearing, your trial date will be set.
PRELIMINARY MOTION HEARINGS
A motion is a challenge to the legality of the evidence gathered against you. A motion aims to try to prevent the admission of evidence against you at your trial. These motions to suppress evidence must be filed before or at your arraignment. If our legal team can establish that your rights were somehow violated during the initial stop and arrest, we will file a motion to eliminate this evidence from the case. Often, if the motion is successful, the case may be dismissed or a plea deal will be reached between the defense and the prosecution. Calling an experienced attorney immediately following an arrest helps improve your chances of not being charged. By contacting us immediately, motions can be filed and our legal team can begin building your defense as soon as possible.
There are two forms your trial can take: a jury trial or a bench trial. A jury trail has six jurors who decide what the judgment will be; a bench trial only has a judge who also serves as a jury. Often, a bench trial is a better option because a jury may not be able to understand the more complex components of your case and the evidence your legal team presents. The decision of which type of trial is ideal for you can be discussed with your counsel who will help you decide which is best for your case.
Once the trial begins, the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense lawyer has the opportunity to bring witnesses, experts and to cross-examine the arresting officer to build your case and create reasonable doubt. At the end of the trial you will be found guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty, you can appeal the judgment.