A DUI case officially begins after prosecutors decide to file charges against you. The steps of a DUI case are similar to the steps of any criminal case. However, it's typically rare for a DUI case to actually go to trial.
If you have been busted for a DUI and are now facing the prospect of criminal charges, it's a good idea to work with an experienced Philadelphia DUI attorney. The criminal process can be confusing and complicated, and an attorney can help guide you through the process while advocating for your rights.
Here is a general overview of what you can expect if you are formally charged with drunken driving:
- Booking. After you are arrested, you will be taken to the police station where you will be "booked." This process typically consists of the police taking down your personal information, recording information about the crime, collecting fingerprints, performing a criminal background check, and placing you in a holding cell.
- Bail. Because you are innocent until proven guilty, you may be released from custody provided that you post bail. The amount of bail that you have to pay will depend upon the specific facts of your arrest and other factors.
- Arraignment. This is the first stage of courtroom proceedings. During a typical arraignment, you will be read your criminal charges, will be asked if you need a lawyer, and you can enter your initial plea. Your future hearing dates will also be set.
- Preliminary Hearing. A preliminary hearing can be described as a "trial before the trial." The judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for there to be a trial. The judge does not determine guilt or innocence. Typically, most DUI defendants reach a plea at this stage and avoid trial.
- Trial. The is the criminal trial where a jury of your peers will determine your guilt or innocence.
- Sentencing. If you are found guilty, this final stage represents when you find out what penalty you will have to serve.
To learn more about DUIs, check out FindLaw's free Guide to DUI Charges and take a look at the related resources below.