If you've been charged or arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, you're probably wondering what the entire DUI arrest process looks like.
Here are the 7 Phases of a Pennsylvania DUI Arrest Case:
1. Preliminary Hearing
In essence, this hearing is to determine probable cause. That is, the state must prove there was a crime committed, and that you are the most probable person that committed that crime (also known as prima facie). This stage is critical to the defense of your DUI. Witnesses, including police, can appear for cross examinations, and the written record of these proceedings can be used later in your case. It would be a critical mistake to waive this hearing without the benefit of a PA DUI Lawyer.
This is a court appearance that typically occurs 30 to 60 days after your DUI arrest. Your attorney may be able to attend this hearing on your behalf – you may be able to avoid appearing for the arraignment in person. Primarily, the arraignment is to advise you of your rights, which your attorney can do for you at their office, or anywhere outside of court.
3. Pre-Trial Conference
Some counties in Western Pennsylvania employ this practice. This is where your attorney will discuss your case with the Prosecutor, and this serves as the appropriate time for plea bargain negotiations, if that is in your best interest. Usually, the Pre-trial Conference is approximately 6 weeks after your arraignment, the actual date is set by the Court.
4. Suppression Hearing
Some or all of the evidence against you may be suppressed by the Court, if your constitutional rights were violated. The suppression motion must be filed within 30 days of your arraignment. The suppression hearing is typically held anywhere from 6 weeks to 90 days after your preliminary hearing.
5. ARD Program (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition)
You may want to discuss negotiating your entry into Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (A.R.D.) if your case was not dismissed on pre-trial motions, and if you qualify for A.R.D. This can be an attractive option for you as part of a plea agreement with the Prosecutor, as you would do no jail time & leaves open the possibility of expungement. Expungement is a dismissal of your offense with no permanent criminal record! This option can also shorten your driver’s license suspension. We can discuss this in great detail during your free consultation.
By law, you are entitled to a trial by a jury of your peers. Sometimes, it is beneficial to have a trial in court with a jury of twelve, in front of a judge. PA DUI law was changed dramatically in 2003, and the right to a jury trial is not always a possibility.
A sentence is imposed by the Court after a conviction (in a trial) or a plea bargain has been established and a plea has been entered. Sentences can include such punishments as jail time, home detention, community service, fines, and alcohol classes. Pennsylvania DUI law is complicated, and sentencing can depend on multiple facets of a case. That is just one reason why you should be sure to hire an experienced PA DUI lawyer to defend your charges.