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In the aftermath of being charged with driving under the influence, an arraignment is held. It is at the arraignment that a defendant enters a plea, which usually is not guilty.
The next proceeding in a driving under the influence case is what is a called a pretrial hearing.
What is a Pretrial Hearing?
Technically speaking, a pretrial hearing is a formal court setting in which the prosecution and the defense meet to exchange evidence. The pretrial hearing is also the point in the process at which the parties attempt to address, at least to some degree, certain issues that might come up at trial.
There can be one pretrial hearing in a DUI case. On the other hand, there are DUI cases in which more than one pretrial hearing is conducted.
Resolving a Case at a Pretrial Hearing
The pretrial hearing is an important juncture in a DUI case because in many instances, the parties may attempt to resolve the case. They may try to reach what oftentimes is called a plea agreement in the criminal justice system, including in DUI cases.
In fact, the judge may even encourage the prosecution and defense to discuss the possibility of reaching a settlement of a DUI case on the date of a pretrial hearing. As an aside, the vast majority of criminal cases in Los Angeles county do not end up in trials. They end up being resolved with plea agreements between the prosecution and the defense.
Receipt of DUI Discovery Material
In a DUI case, defense counsel will seek certain evidence under control of the prosecution. On the other hand, in most DUI cases, the defense will not have a significant amount of evidence to convey to the prosecution.
More often than not, the bulk of what is known as discoverable material is conveyed from the prosecution to the defense at the pretrial conference. Discoverable material is the evidence to which a party in a DUI case legally is entitled to receive from the opposing party.
Defendant and Proof of Compliance
Another aspect of a pretrial conference involves the Defendant demonstrating to the court that he or she is in compliance with the terms and conditions of the court’s pretrial release order. For example, if the court ordered the defendant to attend AA meetings as a condition of being released from jail, he or she will need to show the court proof of attendance at these meetings.
The pretrial hearing may also be the juncture in time at which the court will entertain a suppression motion or motions brought by the defense. For example, a Los Angeles DUI lawyer might bring a suppression motion challenging the vehicle stop of the defendant. By this it is mean defense counsel might pursue a motion to suppress all evidence collected at the time of the arrest because the police officer lacked probable cause to make the vehicle stop in the first instance.
Consult with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney
Typically, a person charged with DUI best protect his or her rights and interests prior to the arraignment. A person facing a DUI prosecution needs to appreciate that the criminal justice process can more swiftly in many instances. In other words, the pretrial conference may not occur terribly long after the arraignment.
The first step in retaining legal representation is scheduling what is called an initial consultation with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer. During an initial consultation, a DUI lawyer provides an evaluation of the case, together with possible defense strategies. As a general rule, there is no charge for an initial consultation in a DUI case.