After a DUI Arrest
I understand that once released from the trauma of jail one of the last things you wish to do is have to be concerned with what immediate steps to take to ensure that your legal rights are protected. However, after an arrest there is no time for delay in seeking the legal advice you will need. In Indiana, once criminal charges have been filed, there are legally imposed time limits for one accused of a crime to assert certain legal rights and defenses. Your attorney will need all available leverage at his or her disposal when fighting on your behalf. If potential legal defenses are not preserved, you risk losing these valuable weapons toward either dismissing your case or leveraging the most favorable options possible.
In Indiana, the legal process starts through a proceeding called an “Initial Hearing.” The Initial hearing, often called an arraignment in other states, is where the person accused criminal wrongdoing is now labeled the “Defendant.” As such, the Defendant is formally informed of the charges as well as the maximum and minimum penalties that can be imposed. At this time if the Defendant has not been released from jail, the issue of bond may be addressed. Further, the Defendant will express the desire to have private counsel represent them. If one cannot afford private counsel, the judge may then inquire as to one’s financial status to determine whether a public defender will be appointed to represent the Defendant.
Most significantly within dui cases, if probable cause has been determined by the Initial Hearing judge that the Defendant either failed or refused to submit to a breath or blood test, the Defendant’s drivers license will be suspended by the time of the Initial Hearing and will remain suspended during the duration of the case proceedings.
I believe the opening stages of a prosecution are extremely important in large part due to the messages that are being sent to a prosecutor responsible your potential prosecution and punishment. One must never lose perspective of the reality that a deputy prosecutor is not hired or rewarded to seek ways to provide legal assistance to one they are responsible for punishing. Favorable settlement options short of trial are not the result of a prosecutor’s sympathy but based upon the attorney’s reputation and experience in being able to uncover weaknesses within a case prosecution; weaknesses that may cause a prosecutor uncertainty and/or a lack of willingness to proceed to trial.
For this reason one of the last things one wishes to due is to allow a prosecutor to “brand” a file with a written settlement proposal in anticipation that a public defender or local general practice attorney will be conducting your defense.
In my experience, once a written plea proposal has been filed, communicated or negotiated by a local general practice attorney, it can often be challenging for me to have the prosecutor reverse course as to a client’s best options later. Although certainly possible, in such circumstances I must frequently explore whether there is a suitable way to allow for the prosecutor to save face to drastically alter options formerly determined.
After being charged with a crime at your Initial Hearing, later court dates will be set to allow time for defense counsel and an assigned prosecutor to report to the court as to whether trial will be required to resolve the case. In either event, in most circumstances such hearings are usually more for the defense attorney and prosecutor to narrow the issues of a case bearing upon trial and/or potential settlement of the prosecution.
Through a legal term known as “discovery” I demand that the prosecution provide any and all information within the prosecutor’s case file touching upon the arrest of my client. Typically, initial discovery may be provided within a 30-45 day period. Depending upon the complexities of a case ongoing discovery and its receipt is often a continued focus of a pre trial conference. It is at this stage where any and all legal materials including, but not limited to, all information bearing upon the prosecutor’s case is obtained that may be used in evidence should a prosecution proceed to trial.
In the fortunate circumstances where a client’s case can be thrown out of court, a single pre trial conference following the initial hearing may not be required. However, in most cases, there may be as few as one pre trial to multiple hearings depending upon how long it takes to get the best options for a client no matter how much time or pre trial deliberations may be required.
Following the pre trial process, should settlement options not be forthcoming that are of substantial benefit to a client, trial options will be considered. Should trial be desired we will together determine whether a “bench” trial, meaning the judge would decide the outcome of a case, or conventional jury trial is the best potential path to success for a client.
There are many understandable questions about criminal case procedure asked by lawyers and non lawyers alike. Please feel free to contact me at anytime to begin the process of getting you or a loved one back on your feet in this most difficult time.