In California and across the U.S., an individual who is arraigned for driving under the influence is granted a preliminary hearing by a judge. The purpose of this hearing is to determine if the DUI defendant should have a trial by jury. In making the decision, the judge will use probable cause to decide if there is enough evidence to convince a jury of the defendant’s guilt.
When the preliminary hearing is held, the judge will listen to arguments from the government’s prosecutor and the defendant or the defendant’s attorney. The government’s prosecutor can call witnesses to testify, and he or she can present evidence to the judge in support of a trial. The defendant’s attorney may cross-examine witnesses and try to convince the judge that there is not enough evidence to go to trial based on the merits of the case.
In the criminal defense process for DUI charges, it is important to note that most DUI cases do not get a preliminary hearing for a jury trial. The arraignment process is typically the only time the accused is in court because of strong evidence of intoxication at the time of arrest. This evidence is often obtained through a breath test given by police.
Sometimes, a person will get a preliminary hearing based on whether the DUI charge is considered a felony, even if that suspect is pleading not guilty to the DUI charge. In other cases, a trial will occur based on a grand jury indictment process incorporating the government’s evidence.
An individual charged with DUI can face many years in prison and significant fines if convicted. It may be important to have an DUI defense attorney as an advocate during this time. The attorney may use an in-depth knowledge of the law to help give a defendant the support needed for a favorable outcome.