At What Point Do I Enter A Plea Of Guilty Or Not Guilty In A DUI Case?
Usually, you and your attorney will enter a plea of not guilty at the arraignment hearing. The arraignment is a hearing that lays out your charges and potential penalties if you are found guilty. For example, a DUI in the State of Washington is a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
After the arraignment hearing, the case is set for a pretrial hearing. At the pretrial hearing, your attorney will be able to negotiate with the prosecutor. All of the evidence should be handed over from the prosecutor before this hearing, and you and your attorney can determine how to proceed. Usually, if this is your first DUI, something can be worked out with the prosecutor. For example, the DUI could be reduced down to a lesser charge if a plea of guilty is entered at the pretrial hearing. If a more favorable offer has been made, you can always change the plea at the pretrial hearing or the motion hearing.
You can plead not guilty and then plead guilty later on after your attorney has gone through all of the evidence, and you jointly decide on the best course of action.
Do You Advise Your Clients To Undergo Voluntary Pretrial Counseling In A DUI Case?
I often advise my clients to undergo voluntary pretrial counseling in a DUI case. I always recommend that my clients get an alcohol drug evaluation from a state-certified treatment agency. A client getting an assessment before the pretrial stage shows the court and the prosecutor that you’re taking the situation seriously. Ideally, for a first DUI offense, the only treatment required is participating in the Alcohol Drug Information School (ADIS) and Victim Impact Panel (VIP). The Alcohol Drug Information School is an eight-hour class, and a victim impact panel usually runs about two hours. If it’s a case that we’re likely going to try to work out a deal with the prosecutor, the sooner you get these requirements done, the better.
At What Point In A Case Do You Generally Come Into Contact With Your Client?
I usually come in contact with clients for a DUI case during the first or second week following their arrest. Ideally, the sooner they make contact, the better. The prosecutor has two years to file DUI charges against a person in Washington State. In a lot of cases, you will get a mandatory court date notice the day you’re arrested. However, in other cases, it can take several months to a year to get a court date. The problem in this scenario is that some evidence may not be preserved for that long, and once it is gone, there is nothing that can be done to get it back. For that reason, it’s best to hire a DUI attorney as soon as possible, even if you don’t have a court date for three to four months. The attorney can take the proper steps to preserve all of the available evidence.
What Happens After I Enter A Plea Of Not Guilty In My DUI Case?
An individual should almost always enter a plea of not guilty at the arraignment hearing for their DUI case. As stated above, at the arraignment hearing, an individual finds out the extent of their charge. Also, the court will decide what your release conditions will be throughout the time you are working through the legal process.
In a standard DUI case, where there are no aggravating factors or prior DUI history, you will be told by the Judge to stay out of trouble, not to possess or consume alcohol, and not to drive without a valid license and insurance.
Individuals must stay out of trouble while their DUI case is pending. Any additional charges or violations of the court orders can place you in a world of unnecessary hurt!
For more information on Entering A Plea Of Guilty Or Not Guilty, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (253) 201-2001 today.
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