The Chronology of a DUI Trial in Florida
If you were arrested on drunk driving charges under Florida’s DUI statute, it may be possible to enter into a plea bargain, diversion program, or other arrangements at the early stages of the criminal process. Still, if you cannot resolve the case by agreement, you will go on to a full trial and the stakes are higher when the proceedings reach this point. The prosecutor may feel very confident about the legal issues and evidence against you, but keep in mind that the burden of proof is high. As with most criminal matters, you increase your chances of a favorable result when you work with an experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer. It is also important to understand what happens in a drunk driving trial.
Pre-Trial Proceedings in a Florida DUI Case: In most drunk driving cases, you will be released on bail after your arrest. The arraignment date will be scheduled a week or more out. Your arraignment is your first appearance in court, when the judge will read the charges against you and inform you of your rights. You will enter a plea at this proceeding, either guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Until you consult with a DUI defense lawyer about your rights, you should never plead guilty or no contest. When you plead not guilty, your case will move on to the next phase.
The Preliminary Hearing: In most cases where the defendant pleads not guilty, the matter goes before the court for a preliminary hearing. The prosecutor must convince the judge that there is enough evidence to go forward on drunk driving charges. The burden of proof is lower than at trial, where the prosecution must show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You will have a chance to present evidence disputing the allegations against you.
In addition, you have the opportunity to present pretrial motions. For instance, if there were any civil rights violations involved at your arrest, you may request the judge to exclude unlawfully obtained evidence. Without this information, a prosecutor may not have enough factual support to convict you.
Trial in a Florida DUI Case: Unless you work out an agreement to resolve drunk driving charges or succeed in dismissing them, your DUI case will go to a full trial. The prosecution presents evidence and testimony against you, and your attorney will cross-examine witnesses. When the prosecutor rests, it is your turn to defend against the charges. If you can poke holes in the prosecutor’s case, or present sufficient evidence to contradict the allegations, you could be acquitted at trial.
Trust an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer to Handle Your Florida DUI Case
From your DUI arrest through the trial phase, you are in a better position to fight for your rights when you retain a knowledgeable attorney to defend the charges. To learn more about drunk driving cases in Florida, please contact Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer Kevin J. Kulik. We can schedule a consultation to review your case and determine strategies.