DUI Trial and Preparation
DUI Case Stages | Trial and Preparation | DUI Trial Lawyer - Maricopa County Defense Firm
DUI Case Stages in Maricopa County
In Maricopa County, the percentage of DUI cases that go trial are very small, about 2% to 3%. Most DUI cases are resolved during the previous case stages of the DUI charges. However, if your Defense and the Prosecution are unable to agree upon an acceptable resolution to your case, you may be eligible for a jury trial based on the nature of your DUI charges. The decision as to whether or not to go to trial is very serious, and all trials possess uncertainties. When deciding upon whom to hire to defend your DUI charges, you should make sure your attorney has a vast amount of trial and litigation experienced. Below are case stages that are involved with a DUI felony trial in Maricopa County, Arizona.
DUI Trial and Preparation Stages
- Initial Pretrial Conference (IPTC): In accordance with Maricopa County criminal case procedures, defendants who plead "not guilty" will be scheduled for a Pre-trial Conference. The first one is called the Initial Pretrial Conference or IPTC. One of the main purposes of the first one is for the prosecution and defense to narrow the issues in controversy that surround the criminal case. IPTCs take place 35 days after the arraignment. The IPTC allows for both sides (prosecution and defense) to meet earlier in cases to resolve issues. The subsequent Pre-trial conferences provide forums in which the prosecution and defense can attempt to negotiate the best possible plea arrangement (plea bargain). In some cases, it allows for a resolution of the entire criminal case The date is agreed upon by the Court and your attorney's calendar. Under. There are typically 2-3 pre-trial hearings before trial, not including Informal Conferences, prior to trial or complete resolution of the criminal case. More than 97% of all DUI criminal cases in Maricopa County resolve prior to trial.
- Informal Conferences (A.R.S. 13-4237), the court may hold, at any time, an informal conference to expedite a proceeding. The defendant does not need to be present, if they are being represented by an attorney. In that case, only the defense attorney needs to be present on behalf of the defendant. .
- Suppression Hearing or Evidentiary Hearing (A.R.S. 13-4238): Following the first pre-trial conference an Evidentiary Hearing takes place. Under Arizona Statute the defendants is entitled to be present; and to testify, at an official hearing to determine issues of material fact and to subpoena witnesses of the incident surrounding their charges. In this case, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant as to the allegations of fact by "preponderance of the evidence". If a constitutional violation by police or law enforcement is proven, the burden then shifts back to the state to prove beyond a "reasonable doubt" that the violation or " defect was harmless. The Court will rule on the admissibility of the evidence within 10 days of the hearing. The court will then make specific findings of fact known and express its conclusions of law relating to each issue presented. It will then enter orders of resolve. This could include, but not limited to: future proceedings; sentencing and penalties; further detention; suppression of evidence; dismissal of charges; order of a new trial; or conditions of release.
- Trial Readiness Conference: It is also referred to as a Settlement Conference. This forum is usually takes place about 45 days before the scheduled trial start date. This conference takes place under the supervision of the presiding Judge. The defense attorney, prosecutor and judge meet in the judge/s chambers. They discuss the remaining issues before trial, and a possible resolution. The judge provides information concerning the consequences of trial, and encourages both sides to make another attempt to resolve the matter before a formal trial takes place. This provides a forum for which negotiations or plea agreements may be discussed again. Cases are often resolved at this conference.
- Trial: The right to a fair and public trial originates from the US Constitutions, Article 3 and expanded in the 6th Amendment. However, in Arizona newly Enacted Legislation, SB 1200 effective January 1, 2012, impacts first time DUI offenders with Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) under 0.15%. Those facing first time Misdemeanor DUI under 0.15% is no longer be able to demand a jury trial. Alternatively, they are allowed to request a bench trial with the judge. A trial by jury would be discretionary by the judge. For all other DUI charges, involving BAC that exceeds 0.15% (Extreme DUI) or greater; and for repeat DUI offenses, a defendant may still be granted a jury trial. In this case a defendant would be entitled to a jury trial if their criminal defense attorney and the Prosecution are unable to agree upon an acceptable sentencing, plea bargain or other resolution to the case. request a trial. Trial must be held within six months after plea. This time limit is referred to as "Speedy Trial" Rights in Arizona under Rule 8.of Arizona Criminal Procedures. Most trials involve felony DUI charges. Juries consist usually of 8 to 12 jurors depending on the charges and are selected by agreement of both the prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. The judge makes decisions regarding legal questions or issues. The jurors selected make decisions regarding facts and guilt. The jury decides if the prosecution proved "beyond a reasonable doubt" that a defendant is guilty of the charges. A felony DUI trial usually lasts 3 to 5 days; or longer depending on the circumstances. The jury's decision must be unanimous. State Laws regarding trial rights continues to be an area of active legislation, and challenging laws.
- Sentencing - Misdemeanor DUI Charges. In the case of Misdemeanor DUI charges, if a person pleads guilty at their Arraignment in the beginning, they waive their rights to defend the charge. The judge will usually order sentencing at that time. Consequently, to admitting guilt with no defense, the defendant is agreeing to whatever punishment is recommended unilaterally by the prosecution. And no mitigating factors are considered by the judge to reduce sentencing. This is usually not in the best interest of the defendant.
- Sentencing - Felony DUI Charges. If a defendant is found guilty of Felony DUI by the jury or enters a guilty plea by way of a plea agreement, the matter will be scheduled for a "sentencing hearing". The sentencing hearing usually takes place 30 days after the jury decision or guilty plea is agreed upon and entered by the defendant. Prior to the sentencing hearing, a pre-sentence report is prepared for the judge by the probation officer. The pre-sentencing report gives the judge background information about the defendant. The report includes sentencing recommendations and factors for the judge to consider. The sentencing hearing provides a forum for both the defense and prosecution to present to their opinions and arguments regarding the appropriate penalties. The judge will then make a ruling and issue a "sentencing order". Sentencing for felony DUI convictions can include incarceration, driver's license suspension or revocation; fees, fines can costs; alcohol or drug counseling or treatment; use of ignition interlock device; victim restitution; or other penalties depending on the circumstances surrounding the charges. The judge's order for sentencing will fall within a statutory minimum to maximum sentencing range for the crime in which they were found guilty. Sentencing may be less harsh or harsher depending on mitigating factors usually argued by the defense; and aggravating factors usually argued by the prosecution.
DUI Trial Lawyer for Defense in Maricopa County, Arizona
If you face active DUI charges in Maricopa County, and have not yet gone to court, you should consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer, such as James Novak, DUI & criminal defense trial lawyer, to discuss your case, and defense options. It is unwise to face trial without qualified criminal defense representation. If retained, an experienced DUI attorney will discuss your defense options including trial. Based on the circumstances in your matter, they will advise you of whether or not a trial is in your best interest, and which avenue of defense is likely to result in the best possible outcome in your case. The decision to take you case to trial or not is always your own. James Novak, DUI and criminal defense trial lawyer can help you to weigh the advantages, and disadvantages; and recognizing the weaknesses and strengths of your case, before making a decision to proceed to trial.