DUI Progression Described By a Board Certified Lawyer Go Over Each Step of a DUI in Tampa Courts
Florida Criminal Procedure described by an expert.
Overview DUI Progression in Tampa Courts
A DUI case begins with the commission of a crime. The court receives cases in three ways:
- The accused arrested at the scene of the crime;
- Arrest based on a warrant issued by the Court in response to a sworn complaint; and
- As a result of an investigation and an indictment by a grand jury.
In all instances, the evidence must be sufficient to convince the Court that there is “probable cause” that there was a crime and that the person arrested took part in committing the crime. “Probable Cause” means that there is a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed.
First Appearance Hearing
Within twenty-four (24) hours of the DUI arrest, the Defendant stands before a judge for a first appearance hearing. Then at the hearing, the Judge will set the conditions if any, for release of the defendant from jail. Also, the Judge will explain to the defendant the exact charges. If he or she cannot afford an attorney the judge will appoint the Public Defender to represent the individual at that hearing, If the accused has sufficient roots in a community to ensure that the person will return for trial, the judge may release the accused on his own recognizance pending judicial proceedings. This means the accused does not have to post bond. Some defendants can post a bond prior to the hearing, based on certain conditions. Each morning of the year, there are First Appearance Hearings.
There is a list of standard bond amounts, previously determined by the courts. If the defendant is unable to post the standard bond amount, the bond hearing occurs within 5 to 7 days of his arrest. At this hearing, the victim of the offense, if there is one, has the absolute right to bring any facts to the court’s attention, which the victim feels the court should consider in deciding the amount of the DUI bond.
State Attorney DUI Investigation
Sometime after the First Appearance hearing but before the arraignment, the State Attorney will conduct an investigation to determine what, if any, charges to file. A victim of the crime may be notified to appear at the State Attorney’s Office to give a sworn statement regarding the crime. The case against the accused may proceed with or without a victim’s cooperation. The accused will not be present at this meeting.
After the presentation of your case to the State Attorney, the State Attorney will make a determination as to what action is appropriate. The State Attorney tells the victim the appropriate action. The State Attorney’s Office may do any of the following:
- File an Information. Specifically, the information is a formal document containing the defendant’s exact charges filed with the Clerk’s Office.
- No File an Information. Conversely, a formal document or Letter of Release stating that the facts and circumstances as presented do not warrant prosecution at this time.
Read about the Individual Florida Statutes:
- TRAF1012 DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
- TRAF1015 DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE UNLAWFUL BREATH
- TRAF1019 DUI WITH PROPERTY DAMAGE OR PERSONAL INJURY 2ND CONVICTION
- TRAF1037 DUI 2ND CONVICTION
DUI Criminal Progression of Arraignment
A Tampa DUI Arraignment is the initial court appearance of the defendant. The court will inform the defendant of the charges pending, give the defendant his/her rights, appoint a lawyer if necessary, and hear the plea of the defendant. At the arraignment, the defendant learns the charges before them and the possible penalties for the offense. The defendant may plead guilty, and if so, the judge may impose a sentence at this time. If the defendant cannot afford a private attorney the judge appoints a public defender or volunteer attorney. As with all hearings, the victim of the crime has an absolute right to appear and speak.
Victim Impact Statement
A pre-trial conference is a court proceeding in which the prosecuting and defense attorneys discuss the status of the case with the judge. At this time the lawyers tell the court of a possible plea agreement or the availability of victims/witnesses for trial. In addition, if the defendant, State or Court is not ready for trial and a plea agreement cannot be reached, the judge may grant a continuance of the case. If both the State and the defense cannot agree to a plea and the judge does not grant a continuance, then the case will be scheduled for trial.
At the DUI trial, the judge or a jury of citizens will decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. First, the State will present its evidence. Then the defense will present its evidence. Attorneys for each side will have a chance to ask questions of every witness. The burden of proof is on the State to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden is difficult by design so that innocent people will not be found guilty.
If a defendant pleads guilty, sentencing occurs at the Pre-trial conference. And if the court finds the defendant guilty, sentencing occurs at the trial proceeding. The court, upon a finding of guilt, or plea of guilty, may have the option of sentencing the defendant to a period of probation, community control, jail or prison, and a monetary fine. Florida uses a sentencing guidelines system. The facts of the case and the history of the defendant pre-determines each sentence. The court may impose a sentence above or below the recommended sentence depending upon extenuating circumstances. The court must set forth, in writing the reasons for departure from the recommended range.