Being arrested for DUI in Adams County can be a huge mystery. Chances are, especially if you’ve never been arrested before, you have no idea what the next steps are, or what is going to happen to you. You already may feel intimidated after the experience of being arrested, and may feel embarrassed and alone. This article is designed to give you an overview of all the steps involved in the DUI process, so you know exactly what to expect when and can prepare yourself accordingly.
Step 1. The Preliminary Hearing
The police officer who initially arrested you for DUI formally files his (or her) complaint in an Adams County court. The court will decide if the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has enough evidence to continue with the case. The state has what’s called the “burden of proof,” meaning they have to show they have the evidence to prove you’re guilty, but the standard they have to meet is much lower than the standard they will have to meet to convict you. However, if you have a lawyer who specializes in DUI at this point, he or she may be able to convince the court that the case isn’t worth pursuing even at this early phase, or that you should fave lower charges.
Step 2. The Formal Arraignment
This will take place 30-60 days after the Preliminary Hearing of the charges against you are not dismissed. It is simply a meeting where the charges against you are read and your rights are explained. You don’t need to be there, if you have an attorney, he or she can go instead.
Step 3. The Discovery Phase
The state is required to reveal the evidence that they will use to prove you are guilty. This includes the results of any blood or breath tests, any photographs that may have been taken at the scene and any statements from any possible witnesses who were at the scene. If you have a lawyer working for you, the evidence will go directly to him or her so it can be analyzed and your lawyer can develop the best possible defense strategy.
Step 4. Trial Preparation
You or your lawyer will file an “Omnibus Pretrial Motion” – a final request for the court to review your case and possibly avoid trial based on these questions:
- Were you stopped and detailed legally?
- Has the state shown Probable Cause to arrest you?
- Was the administration of any breath or blood test legal?
- Are the results of your tests valid, and if you refused to take a test, is that report valid?
- Did anything else occur that may have violated your rights, or were any improper procedures used?
It is difficult to prove any of these allegations on your own. But an experienced DUI attorney will understand the details of your case, and if there is any cause for dismissal or any evidence of anything improper, he or she is highly likely to find it and use it in your favor.
Step 5. Trial
If you reach the trial phase, you (and your lawyer) and the state’s attorney will both appear in court and present both sides of your case. In most cases, a judge will make the decision in Adams County, but you may also receive a jury trial. The state may bring in witnesses or experts to testify against you and prove that you were, in fact, driving while intoxicated. If you are working with a lawyer, he or she can also bring in witnesses to work in your favor and cast doubt on the state’s case against you. You lawyer will also stay on top of everything that happens in the state’s case and take advantage of any inconsistencies, discrepancies or anything that will give you an opportunity to fight back.
Getting arrested for DUI is just the beginning – the whole process can take months and can be very intimidating. However, all that time and all those stages also provide a lot of opportunities to present your side of the story. Presenting that side in a professional, believable away that will convince a judge or jury is not easy on your own. But with the help of an experienced DUI attorney who specializes in cases like yours, you can not only fight back, you may actually be able to win. If you’re interested in finding out how, contact The McShane Firm as soon as you can. And take control of the DUI process today.