Bakersfield Court Procedure
What is a DUI Court Procedure?
After you have been arrested for a DUI offense, you are taken to the Bakersfield police station and are either ‘booked' or' processed.' During this process, an officer will take your personal information, record information regarding that crime, do a criminal record search on you, take your fingerprints and photographs and confiscate any property you were carrying. Then, you will be locked in the jail.
You can get freed from the jail by getting a bail. You are required to pay the bail amount to get released. You can be denied a bail if a judge decides against it based on your past criminal record and background.
After these phases, you are arraigned. Arraignment is the preliminary stage of your court proceedings. During this process, you are called in front of a judge of criminal court. The judge will read all the charges against you. You will be referred as the ‘defendant.' The judge will ask you whether or not you have a lawyer, or if you want the court to arrange an attorney for you. He will also ask you whether you plead guilty, not guilty or plead no contest to the charges pressed against you. Moreover, the judge also makes the decision regarding the bail fee, and whether or not you should be released immediately. He will then announce the date of the future court proceedings.
Normally, the prosecutor gives copies of the Bakersfield police report to you and your attorney during this stage. Moreover, laboratory reports and results of the chemical tests performed on you are also handed over to you during this stage. If you do not have an attorney yet, you can call for one. If you are unable to afford one, you will be provided one by the government and won't be charged with any fee. If you plead guilty during your arraignment, you will be penalized and will not undergo preliminary hearing or trial phases.
Next, you will have to appear before the judge in the court of law on the date of your first hearing. As advised by the attorney, you will most probably plead not guilty. This means that you are denying the charges filed against you. The preliminary hearing is a trial that is conducted before the actual trial. It takes place right after the arraignment. During this phase, the judge will decide whether or not you are guilty. To come to this decision, the judge will use the ‘probable cause' presented by the officer as the standard evidence.
The judge will listen to arguments presented by the prosecutor and the defense. The prosecutor can call different witnesses to justify the charges against you, and can also produce physical proof. The defense normally cross-examines all the witnesses of the government and can question the validity of the evidence provided by the prosecutor against you.
In many DUI cases, the preliminary hearing stage hardly takes place. This is because most of the DUI suspects plead guilty during the arraignment phase and are penalized. This normally happens when the proof against them is extremely strong, and they know that they cannot escape their punishment. Moreover, at times the case gets resolved with the help of a plea bargain that takes place between the defendant and the government. In this case too, the suspect's case won't go to preliminary hearing and will be settled before that. In many states, a ‘grand jury indictment' will settle the matter based on all the evidence provided by the government and the need of a preliminary hearing won't arise.
If your case goes to trial, a jury will examine all the evidence for deciding whether or not you committed the offense you are charged for. After the prosecutor and the defense have presented their cases, the jury will make a decision.
A trial comprises of six parts:
- Selecting a Jury: The judge selects a group of people to act as the jury. The jurors are selected based on their history, profession and relation with the
- Opening Statements: After the judge has selected the jury, the trial begins with the opening statements. Both the prosecutor and defense will open their cases with their opening statements. No witnesses are testified during this stage and both the defense and the prosecutor do not use any evidence as well. The prosecutor will present all the facts related to the case from the perspective of the government, whereas the defense does the same but from your
- Witness Testimony: In this stage, both the sides will present their main proof in front of the jury. This evidence can include documents, photographs and medical reports. Moreover, witnesses are also called and have to take the oath prior to answering any questions, so they tell nothing but the Both the sides also cross examine the proof provided by each other.
- Closing Arguments: After all the evidence has been presented by both the sides, the prosecutor and the defense sum up the case and close it with their closing
- Jury Instruction: After the closing arguments have been presented, the jury instruction takes place. In this phase, the judge gives standards to the jury for reaching a conclusion. The judge will decide on the standards after examining all the evidence provided to him. For instance, if you were charged with manslaughter, the judge will determine elements related to this
- Jury Deliberation and Verdict: The jury is then given time to decide on a verdict. It can take from a few days to a couple of weeks for reaching a The verdict is expected to be either guilty' or ‘non guilty.' Normally, the verdict is unanimous. However, there can be cases where the jury fails to reach a unanimous verdict. In that case, the judge either disqualifies the case or orders a mistrial in which case the trials starts again from the first stage.
So, if you are charged with a DUI offense, this is how your court procedure will look like.
Real World Example
You can better understand the court procedure with the help of the following example.
Duncan Smith had a meet up with his friend where they ordered a few drinks. Though he drank two beers, the effect of alcohol was quite noticeable on him. He was confident that the effect won't last for long, and decided to drive back home. His mobile slipped out of his pants' pocket and as he glanced down to look for it, his car smashed straight into the fire hydrant nearby. As he stepped out of his car to examine the damage he had caused, a Bakersfield police officer approached him.
The officer suspected that Duncan was intoxicated and ordered him to take field sobriety tests. He was made to stand on a single leg, recite all the alphabets and was also asked to use his index finger for touching his nose. Using a flashlight, the officer examined Duncan's eyes and found that they were watery and red. Though Duncan had been successful in all the sobriety tests, since his eyes were bloodshot and watery, and because of the fact that he had damaged the fire hydrant, the officer arrested him. Duncan was taken to the Bakersfield police station and was ordered to take a blood test. The tests revealed that Duncan had about 0.09 percent alcohol in his system.
As his blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit, he was booked by the officer at the police station. The officer photographed him, confiscated his possessions and then placed him in jail. His booking report stated:
Suspect: Duncan Smith. Inventory: black leather wallet that contained his ID card, 2 credit cards and forty dollars. Vehicle: 4 door black colored Nissan which is impounded.
After putting Duncan in the jail cell, the officer finished documenting the case. After he finished his report, he delivered it to the Kern County D.A. Beth Rinaldo. She examined it and then filled out all the relevant criminal complaint papers and forms.
The Bakersfield police officer conducted a background search on Duncan and informed him that he could get himself released by paying a bail of $1000. He was permitted to call someone. He dialed his mother's number and called her down to the station. She came and paid the bail amount. Duncan was asked to appear in court for the arraignment process during the next week.
On returning home, Duncan was advised to either contact the office of the public defender to get an attorney or hire one on his own. As he could not afford a lawyer, he called the public defender's office. He was asked to meet with the public defender that was appointed for him a little before his arraignment was scheduled.
Duncan met his public defender on his arraignment day. Her name was Mary Swift. She called him and informed him that she had been appointed for representing him and he looked like a person who hasn't been taken into police custody before. Duncan informed her that her claim was correct. She told him that since the result of his test was a little over the legal limit and as he had a perfectly clean criminal record, she would be able to get him a good deal.
Duncan told her that he found the test's results a little skewed and gave her details of that incident. Mary told him that challenging the results of the test won't be of much help to him, so he should let her try and work out this situation. Duncan then informed her that he would be graduating soon and would be applying to different jobs. Moreover, he was studying in school and doing a part-time job and he could not afford any grave expenses. Moreover, he told her that his Miranda rights weren't read by the arresting officer.
Mary asked him whether or not the officer properly questioned him. Duncan told her that the officer did not question him, just asked him to take the tests and he passed them, but he still arrested him and took a blood alcohol test. She told him that the officer did not need to read him his rights if he did not question him, so he should try to let her control the situation after talking to the Kern County D.A. Duncan asked her to do her best.
Mary approached the Kern County D.A. and informed her of the entire situation. The Kern County D.A. told Mary that Duncan did not pose any threat to the system, but her boss does not have a tolerance policy on drunken drivers, so she could not help her much. Mary just asked her to reduce the degree of Duncan's punishment. The Kern County D.A. agreed to charge him with erratic driving and that he would have to do a community service of a hundred and twenty hours and would be put on a six month probation. Mary informed Duncan of this deal. Though he still found it ridiculous, he took it as he did not want to go to jail.
Duncan was asked to appear before Judge Black and as he had pleaded no contest, he was released and his case came to an end.