DWI Pre-Trial Process
If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, it’s important to know the court process. Below is a brief explanation of the pre-trial process of DWIs (and most criminal proceedings) so that you can better understand what goes on after an arrest.
When an individual is charged with a DWI, there will be an arraignment. The defendant will be notified of the court date when they are released from custody. The purpose of the arraignment is for the defendant to enter a plea. Generally, the majority of defendants enter a plea of Not Guilty. This is so their attorney has time to look over the evidence, gather evidence, talk to witnesses, etc. During the arraignment, the judge may set conditions on a person’s release or may set bond. Then the next court date will be set.
Pre-Trial Court Dates
Depending on the charges that are pending against the defendant, there may be many court dates. The defendant must attend these court dates and must attend with an attorney. These hearings are often called Pre-Trial Conference hearings. During these hearings, the defendant’s attorney will be investigating the case for their client, looking over pertinent documents, and creating a defense.
Before the trial, there may be what is often called, a “trial-call” to make sure all parties are ready for trial. If the defendant wants to enter a plea bargain, they can do it typically any hearing before the trial. Attorneys talk to each other about cases at the attorney tables or out in the back of the courtroom. That is where a lot of deals are made.
If a defendant has decided that they want to enter a plea, the defendant’s attorney will fill out “Plea of Guilty, Waiver of Rights and Stipulation Agreement” form. This form lays out all the terms of the plea, all rights that are being waived, and that the defendant understands these rights. A judge must approve all plea bargains. If no plea is entered, then the trial date is set.