Know the Consequences of Dui Arrest in Pennsylvania
1. Charging Process:
After the police officer decides to charge you, he or she will prepare a criminal complaint and an affidavit of probable cause (usually a brief summary of the incident in narrative form) and file it with the local District Judge in whose jurisdiction the offense is alleged to have been committed. This process can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks depending upon the officer. The District Judge mails the complaint to you usually via certified and regular mail. Beware, the District Judge will issue a warrant and have you physically arrested if you fail to acknowledge service of this paperwork. In rare circumstances, usually when a driver is from out of state or country, an officer will actually prepare the paperwork while you are in custody following the arrest and you will be taken in front of a District Judge who will set bail. This is called a preliminary arraignment. In either case, you will receive written notice that a preliminary hearing has been scheduled and an order requiring you to get fingerprinted and photographed. It is this process that initiates a criminal history.
2. Preliminary Hearing:
This is a crucial hearing in your case. The preliminary hearing is not a trial. The principal function of a preliminary hearing is to protect an individual’s right against arrest and detention without probable cause. At this hearing, the Commonwealth bears the burden of establishing a prima facia case that a crime was committed and you are probably the one who committed it. It is not necessary for the Commonwealth to establish that your are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at this stage. The preliminary hearing is critical to a defendant because it can be used as an opportunity to “discover” facts about your case and set up important pretrial motions for litigation later on in the process. Never agree to waive your preliminary hearing until after you have had the opportunity to speak with an attorney.
This is the date set after your preliminary hearing, about 30 to 60 days after your hearing. You can usually waive your appearance without prejudice to your case. It is primarily an event to advise you of your of rights and deadlines for pretrial motions. If you have an attorney, he or she will advise you of these rights.
4. Pretrial Conference:
This is generally a housekeeping day in which your attorney discusses your case with the District Attorney, often in front of a Judge, and attempts to negotiate the best possible plea bargain or sets a date for trial. It is also an opportunity to speak with the court about pending pretrial motions. It will happen about 6 weeks after arraignment. The date is set by the Court.
5. Suppression or other Pretrial Motion Hearings:
The Court may suppress some or all of the evidence against you if your constitutional rights have been violated. Your attorney will file motions to suppress. It occurs anywhere 6 weeks to 3 months after the pre-trial conference.
Under the new law, you no longer have an absolute right to a jury trial in first offense DUI’s and trial will occur before a Judge – known as a bench trial. In other cases, trial is to a jury of twelve. Trial dates are usually scheduled at the pretrial conference and within two months of the date a jury is selected.
The Court imposes a sentence after a conviction at trial or after a plea bargain is accepted and a plea entered. Sentences may include jail time in a State or County prison, in-home detention, treatment (including inpatient), community service, alcohol safe driving classes, counseling, fines and costs. Creative sentencing practice is of paramount importance in DUI cases.
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The Best DUI Arrest In History