Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer George Heym's Personal Guarantee
When you are represented by me in a Drunk Driving case, or any other case for that matter, you can always count on the fact that I will treat you with kindness, courtesy and respect. I will take the time to be sure that you always completely understand ALL of the legal options available to you. I will bring all of my Pittsburgh DUI experience and training to bear on your case and use them to fight on your behalf. I know that the fear and stress of being charged with a DUI weigh on a person's mind at all times and not only during business hours. Thus, I will make myself available to you for questions or concerns about your DUI case 24 hours a day seven days a week and not just from 9 to 5.
WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU HAVE BEEN STOPPED FOR, OR CHARGED WITH, A DUI
If, at the time of your Driving Under the Influence stop, you were released (rather than being booked into the county jail) you will receive a "summons" in the mail. This summons will generally contain three items:
First, a copy of the criminal complaint which has been filed against you. This will contain a list of the charges filed and a factual summary of what the Police Officer alleges happened - this is called an an "Affidavit of Probable Cause";
Second, a Preliminary Hearing Notice - this will tell you when and where your Preliminary Hearing will take place;
Third, a Fingerprint Order - this will order you to appear a to be fingerprinted for these charges (some Magistrates may give this to you at the Preliminary Hearing instead of sending it in advance).
Receipt of this summons begins the process of your DUI charge in the Judicial Sytem. The following is a summary of what you can expect as your DUI charge works its way through that system.
This hearing will be held in front of a District Judge and is initiated by a police officer filing a criminal complaint against you. The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether or not the Commonwealth can establish enough evidence for the case to be sent to Common Pleas Court for trial. The burden of proof on the Commonwealth at a preliminary hearing is "Prima Facia" - in layman's terms the Commonwealth must prove that it is more likely than not that a crime was committed and that it is more likely than not that you are the person who committed this crime - this is a very low burden of proof. However, that does not mean that Driving Under the Influence charges cannot be dismissed, or worked out to lesser charges, at this proceeding. Therefore, it is very important to be represented by an experienced Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer at your preliminary hearing. If all, or some, of the charges are held for court you will next have to attend a . . .
At this proceeding a Common Pleas Court Judge (or a member of the Court staff) will officially inform you of all of the charges against you. The Judge will read the charges from the Criminal Information. You will also be given a date to return for a . . .
At this conference you, and your DUI Defense Lawyer will meet with the prosecutor assigned to your case and pick a date for your case to proceed to trial. It may also be a good opportunity to receive discovery in the case, confirm which mandatory DUI Jail sentences apply and negotiate potential plea agreements. This is why it is so important to be represented by an experienced Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer prior to this time. Next, you will have to return for the . . .
On this date, you will be expected to proceed to trial. However, there are several things that can actually happen on this date. First, you can actually proceed to trial. You will have the choice of proceeding with either a non-jury or a jury trial. Second, you might negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor. Third, the case might be postponed because one of the parties is unable to proceed to trial on that date. Finally, if the Commonwealth is unable, or unwilling, to proceed with the case it will be withdrawn by the prosecutor or dismissed by the Judge. Only a knowledgeble DUI Lawyer can evaluate your case to determine which of these options is in your best interest. If you are convicted of, or plead guilty to, your DUI charges you will then have to proceed to . . .
After conviction, or plea, you will have the right to ask the Court for a pre-sentence report which will postpone your sentencing for approximately 90 days or you can waive your right to the pre-sentence report and ask the Judge to impose sentence immediately. At sentencing it is imperative that your Pittsburgh DUI Attorney have the training and experience necessary to ensure that the correct mandatory DUI sentence is imposed. Otherwise you could end up being sentenced to far more jail time than you should. You will then have to . . .
Serve Your Sentence
If you are represented by an experienced Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer, mandatory DUI jail sentences may often be served in alternative housing or on house arrest rather than in jail.
Mandatory DUI Jail sentences may sometimes be served in what are commonly known as halfway houses instead of Jail. Such a sentence may also allow for the individual to attend work and/or school during the day and return to the facility at night.
Burden of Proof
The level of evidence that must be presented by the Commonwealth.
A formal charging document filed with the Clerk of Courts which specifies the particular crimes the accused is charged with and the dates on which they occurred.
This is a copy of all of the evidence that the Commonwealth has against the accused. It may include police reports, Breathalyzer or Laboratory reports, photographs, witness statements, expert reports and any other evidence that has been obtained by the Commonwealth.
Very similar to alternative housing except that the individual is incarcerated in their home. The individual wears a monitoring anklet which allows their whereabouts to be tracked at all times. This type of sentence may also allow for the individual to attend work and/or school.
Twelve citizens of the Commonwealth sit as the "Judges of Fact" and decide whether the individual is Guilty or Not Guilty. During the trial a Common Pleas Court Judge will make all legal rulings and instruct the Jury on the law to apply to the facts.
A Common Pleas Court Judge will make factual decisions instead of a jury and return the verdict of Guilty or Not Guilty.
This is an agreement reached by the accused and the Commonwealth. A plea agreement can involve pleading guilty, or no contest, in return for a reduction in the charges and/or an agreed upon sentence. An experienced Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer will be able to get you the best plea agreement under the particular circumstances of your DUI case.
The Department of Probation prepares a report to aid the Court in sentencing. It will summarize the crime, the individual's prior criminal and personal background and a statement from the victim(s).
Prima Facia Case
The Commonwealth must present evidence that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably the perpetrator of that crime.
During a probationary period the individual is not incarcerated but is supervised by an officer from the Department of Probation.