Nobody likes the idea of going to court. One of the main reasons for this is simply fear of the unknown, as most people aren’t sure what to expect. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI or DWI, it’s beneficial to understand the process by which your case will be tried, and have some idea of what’s likely to occur. In criminal cases, the court must follow certain procedures, both to prove the validity of the charge and to preserve your rights as a defendant.
After you’re arrested, the first step is the preliminary hearing, the goal of which is to prove that you committed a crime. This hearing usually occurs the day after your arrest. While you may not be at your best, it’s important to look as tidy as possible, and remain respectful at all times.
Not long after, you’ll have to appear at what’s called a formal arraignment. At this time, the judge will inform you of any and all charges against you. Pleading guilty will result in accepting a sentence, which may include fines, license suspension, mandatory education, community service or probation depending on the circumstances of your arrest. Pleading not guilty will lead to a trial.
A trial usually starts with both your lawyer and the prosecution outlining the evidence they plan to present. Any witnesses give their testimony, and are then questioned by the opposing side’s attorney. Next, your lawyer will suggest a course of action, usually one that would result in dismissal of the case based on any number of possible reasons. Closing arguments regarding the circumstances and laws related to them are made by both parties, and the judge explains to the jury which of those laws apply in your specific case. The jury is then given time to deliberate, and the final step is the verdict.
If you’re found guilty, many of the sentences listed above may apply. Because of the impact any and all could have on your daily life, finding a knowledgeable Tampa DUI lawyer is recommended. An experienced Florida criminal attorney will do their best to see that your rights are protected throughout your trial and beyond.