DUI Preliminary Hearing
The Trial Before the Trial
At a preliminary hearing, the judge will decide if there is sufficient evidence for a trial. The judge uses 4th amendment’s “probable cause” to make this decision. Probably cause is when the judge decides whether the government has produced enough evidence to convince a reasonable jury that the defendant committed the crime(s) charged.
If the suspect has a qualified DUI attorney, they will be working to have the case dismissed. They can achieve this by proving the prosecution’s case is not strong enough or by pointing out lack of evidence, and strong cross-examination of prosecution witnesses.
The preliminary hearing is held soon after the arraignment. The judge is NOT determining whether you are “guilty” or “not guilty” of a DUI charge during this hearing. The preliminary hearing is simply when the judge decides whether or not sufficient evidence exists to proceed with a trial.
What can I expect the preliminary hearing to be like?
The judge will listen to arguments from the government/prosecution side and from the defendant, which is usually represented by an attorney. The prosecutor may decide to call a witness or witnesses to testify against the defendant. They can also use this time to introduce physical evidence in an effort to convince the judge that the case should go to trial.
Your attorney will also be busy during this hearing. He or she will usually cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. They may also call into question any other evidence presented against you, the defendant, seeking to convince the judge that the prosecutor's case is not strong enough, so that the case against the defendant must be dismissed before trial.
While you may have a preliminary hearing for your DUI charge, this is not always the case. In fact, some states only conduct a preliminary hearing when a felony has been charged. Other states may use a "grand jury indictment" where a designated group of citizens decides whether, based on the evidence, the case should proceed to trial.
There is also the possibility that a plea bargain between the defendant and the prosecution may occur. Your DUI attorney will guide you through this process and will provide you on the specifics of your case.