There are few things more overwhelming for those accused of DUIs than going through the DUI court process. Please continue reading and contact our knowledgeable Allegheny County DUI lawyer to learn more about the DUI court process in Pennsylvania and how our competent legal team here at the Law Offices of former prosecutor George Heym can effectively guide you through it.
The DUI Court Process | What You Should Know
Receipt of a summons from the Magistrate’s office begins the process of your DUI charge in the Judicial System. 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 Allegheny County DUI lawyer at your preliminary hearing.
If all or some of the charges are held for court you will next have to attend a formal arraignment. At this proceeding, a Common Pleas Court Judge (or a member of the Court staff) will officially inform you and your Lawyer 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 pre-trial conference.
At this conference, you and your DUI Defense Lawyer will meet with the prosecutor assigned to your DUI 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 Allegheny County DUI lawyer prior to this time. Next, you will have to return for the trial date.
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 knowledgeable Allegheny County 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 proceed to sentencing.
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 Allegheny County DUI lawyer 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 Allegheny County DUI lawyer, mandatory DUI jail sentences may often be served in alternative housing or on house arrest rather than in jail.
Contact an Allegheny County DUI Lawyer to Guide You Through the DUI Court Process
Our legal team here at the Law Offices of former prosecutor George Heym has successfully guided countless clients through the DUI court process over the years, and we are prepared to effectively do the same for you. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with our competent firm.