So you have been arrested for a DUI in Utah. You are embarrassed, mad, depressed, and wondering what happens next. This is an overview of the what the process when you are arrested for a DUI in Utah.
- Arraignment: The Court schedules an initial appearance. This is a gray area. Sometimes you need to call the Court to find out when you need to show up. Sometimes a court date is set up by the time you get released from jail. Sometimes, you just show up on certain days. It is advisable to talk to a lawyer before this hearing so the lawyer can advise you how to proceed. Many times if you hire a lawyer before this first hearing, the lawyer will cancel this hearing by entering his appearance with a document, enter your plea of not guilty with a document, and request that the case be set for the next hearing.
- Pretrial Conference: The next step is a pretrial conference. This is a meeting with the prosecutor to discuss a possible resolution or plea bargain. If the prosecutor does not make an offer that the citizen can live with, then the case is set for further proceedings. Many times, the case is resolved at this point.
- Suppression Hearings: Many times a lawyer will file a motion to suppress evidence at this point. If the lawyer feels there is a legal reason that some evidence (i.e. the breath test result, certain statements, etc.) should not be heard by the jury, he files a motion to suppress that information. Usually, there is a hearing and testimony of witnesses can be taken. The Court rules on those motions at the hearing, or he thinks about and takes under advisement issuing a decision at a later date.
- Trial: If there has been no resolution, the case will be heard at a trial. In Utah, for a DUI, a person has the right to a jury trial or to have the trial heard before the bench, which means the judge. I almost always request a jury. In Utah, for a Class B Misdemeanor DUI, four jurors are selected to hear the case.
- Not Guilty: If you are found Not Guilty, the case is over.
- Sentencing: If you are found Guilty of DUI, then you are sentenced. Sometimes it will be the day of trial, but you have a right not to be sentenced in less than two days, and not more than 45 days. I believe the idea of this is a cooling off period and sometimes the court requests information to determine the proper sentence.
- Appeal: If you are in a justice court, you have a right to a whole new trial in the District Court. If you are already in the District Court, you have a right to appeal to an appellate court, which is done in writing, not by another trial.
These are common questions that many Utah DUI clients ask me when they are arrested about the procedure. It is important to hire the right attorney as early as possible in the process so the attorney can prepare the case as soon as possible. It is very difficult in calendaring and in preparation when the attorney gets hired half way through the process.