If you are facing DUI charges, there are a few different paths you can take to handle your defense. In many cases, the defendant will make a plea of nolo contender or guilty and will be sentenced. In some cases, the defendant may have a public defender or attorney negotiate a plea bargain for them. In cases where the defendant is willing to challenge the charge, the defendant may plead not guilty and opt to take his or her case to trial. A DUI jury trial is similar to other trials in that there is a series of steps that need to take place before the trial date. The pre-trial conference is just one of those steps.
Like many other trials, DUI trials are preceded by pre-trial procedures. These procedures enable both the prosecution and the defense to gather and exchange information and evidence for use in the trial. Completing these proceedings helps ensure both sides are prepared so the trial can be carried out efficiently. The pre-trial conference will take place some time prior to trial. It will be held with the judge, the defendant, his or her representation, and the prosecutor. The prosecutor will review the facts and circumstances of your case and you and your attorney may be presented with some options. If the prosecutor wishes, he or she can suggest the judge give you the minimum sentence in exchange for a plea of guilty. Or, your attorney may be able to skillfully negotiate a plea bargain, allowing you to accept a lesser charge in exchange for a guilty plea. Judges are allowed to use their discretion when considering the options the prosecutor and/or your attorney present. Unfortunately, judges may vary widely in their degree of leniency. This is one of the reasons why having experienced representation is so crucial. A DUI defense attorney who has taken many DUI cases to trial may know the tendencies of the different judges and can use that knowledge to leverage your defense. For example, some judges are especially motivated to avoid DUI trials and may work hard to facilitate a plea bargain compromise between you and the prosecutor. Others may not be so motivated and you may end up heading to trial anyways. Never attend a pre-trial conference without an attorney. A good attorney will know how to negotiate in a DUI pre-trial conference and will know when continuing on to trial is in your best interest. A plea bargain with a reduced charge may seem like a great deal during a pre-trial conference, however, the circumstances of your case may be such that you may have a chance at avoiding a conviction altogether at trial. Speak with an attorney about your options. The pre-trial conference is an ideal place to negotiate your charge. Court resources are always limited and many judges want to encourage case resolution at the pre-trial conference.
Most DUI cases can be resolved before reaching trial. Certain defendants, however, will be best served by continuing on with the jury trial process. It may be necessary for the defendant to fight the charge altogether in trial if the evidence can be challenged or if the prosecution's argument is based off of incorrect facts. Consult with a California criminal defense attorney with sufficient experience taking cases to trial. Trial court rules and procedures differ from criminal court rules and procedures and a trial involves significantly more work for both defendant and attorney. If you are considering taking your DUI case to trial, make sure you have experienced, skilled representation to help you through the pre-trial proceedings as well as the trial. An attorney can advise you on the chance of success you may have at trial and can elucidate the weaknesses in the prosecution's argument that you can challenge in trial. A good attorney will also be honest about your chances at trial; sometimes resolving the case before trial can ensure you a more lenient sentencing.
Are you or a loved one facing DUI charges? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in DUI defense, our Visalia area legal team can ensure you take the right steps toward having a strong defense. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and has taken over 50 cases to trial; he has the experienced needed to skillfully handle DUI trials. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.