Upon being arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, the charges against you will be thoroughly explained to you at your first court appearance, which is called an arraignment. At this hearing, you will be given the option of pleading not guilty, guilty, or no contest. The judge and the Prosecuting Attorney will also discuss whether or not bail will be required. Fortunately, a skilled defense attorney could make motions on your behalf and advise you throughout the criminal process in an Orange County DUI case.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, your defense lawyer may represent you at the arraignment without your presence. At the arraignment for such charge, a pre-trial hearing may be requested by your attorney, during which time your case will be reviewed and the attorneys will attempt to reach a settlement that both parties agree upon. If all parties can not agree on a settlement, additional pre-trials may be scheduled. Your presence at the pre-trial is not necessary.
When there is a 4th or subsequent DUI charge, or if another person was injured or a child was present in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, you could be charged with a DUI felony. Under these circumstances, a preliminary hearing will be set during your arraignment.
During your preliminary hearing, the prosecuting attorney and your lawyer will present important evidence. During the criminal process for a DUI case, any witnesses for the prosecution can be cross-examined by your Orange County attorney at this time, and the presiding judge will decide whether to allow the case to move forward in court or not. If the evidence against you is enough for the judge to determine the case should proceed, another arraignment will be set and you will enter a plea again.
A plea of not guilty, whether your charge is a misdemeanor or felony DUI, will bring subsequent hearings. If you are in the custody law enforcement at the time of your arraignment, you have the right to a trial within 30 days. If you are not in custody, you have a right to trial within 45 days of your arrest. This may not be enough time for your lawyer to thoroughly research and prepare your DUI defense case; therefore a request for one or more continuances may be made on your behalf.
In the event you plead guilty or no contest to the charges, your attorney can and should negotiate alternative sentencing options. If those negotiations fail, you could face the fullest extent of penalties by state laws.