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The Stages in a DUI Felony Case
Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated is a crime punishable by law in the State of California. Depending on the facts of the case, the crime would be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. While there already has been a discussion on the stages a misdemeanor DUI case undergoes, this discussion involves the other steps if the charges brought against an individual constitute a felony offense.
The stages that a misdemeanor DUI case and a felony DUI case undergoes is the same until the plea bargain stage. This is most especially differentiated when it comes after the plea bargain stage. If the individual in a felony DUI case pleads not guilty and refuses a plea bargain deal, then the following are steps that a DUI felony case undergoes after the plea bargain stage.
- Preliminary Hearing. This stage involves a judge reviewing the case presented by the prosecution against the defendant to see if there is sufficient evidence to merit a trial. Guilt is not determined at this stage, but only such facts that would lead to the conclusion that all the necessary elements of the crime are present. Once the review is complete, often after hearing both sides, the judge determines if the case would prosper.
- Pre-Trial Motions. This is the stage where lawyers for both defense and prosecution submit motions, or in simpler terms, requests for the completion of their records. These include evidentiary matters for inclusion or exclusion and the witness list. This stage also sets the rules of the forthcoming trial, which includes what can be discussed and asked in open court and what is not included in the case.
- Trial. This is the stage where a jury would hear the version of the prosecution as to the facts that constitute the criminal offense of felony DUI. The measure that the jury determines guilt or innocence is that the facts presented proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed and it was committed by the defendant. On the other hand, the defense presents its own evidence which counters the facts presented by the prosecution and lead to a reasonable doubt as to the charges made against the accused. This is also the stage where members of the jury are chosen and agreed upon by both parties and ends with the jury reading out their verdict of either guilty or not guilty.
- Sentencing. If a conviction for the crime was meted out either by plea or judgment, then the judge determines what the reasonable punishment is for the commission of the crime. These may include incarceration, probation, attendance in alcohol treatment programs, payment of fines or some other punishment as allowed under the law.
As can be seen, felony DUI cases involve a determination of guilt by a jury of peers. In order to be properly advised and guided on the steps towards facing this kind of legal problem, call the DUI Lawyers of the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.