FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

DUI

DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcoholic Beverages, Chemical Substances or Controlled Substances). Under Florida law, DUI is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven. Florida Statutes Section 316.193.
Ten Day Rule: After an arrest for the charge of DUI, if you refused to take a breath, blood or urine test or if the results of your breath, blood or urine test were .08% blood-alcohol or above, you only have ten days to request a hearing in order to challenge the administrative suspension of your drivers license. Our office can fill out the appropriate paperwork to challenge this administrative suspension.

Potential Penalties: If you are convicted of DUI, you may be sentenced with jail time, monetary fines, probation, license suspension, community service, and court mandated drug and alcohol programs. Your vehicle may be impounded and may also have an ignition interlock device installed.
Criminal Procedure

FIRST APPEARANCE

First Appearance is generally held in the jail within 24 hours of your arrest. You will attend this hearing if you have not already been released from the jail on bond. At the hearing the Judge will inform you of the charges, review the charging Affidavit to determine if the minimum probable cause has been demonstrated to support your detention, discuss the hiring or appointment of an attorney, and may consider your release on bond or ROR.

ARRAIGNMENT

Whether or not you are released from jail on bond or ROR, or if you remain in jail because of a high bond or a "hold," your next court hearing is called the Arraignment. When arrested for DUI or other criminal traffic charges a court hearing date may appear on the ticket - this hearing is also considered an Arraignment. You are required to appear at this hearing to enter a plea and advise the Court of your intentions regarding an attorney. If you are unable to afford an attorney, the Court will appoint a Public Defender at the Arraignment. If you have not already retained an attorney and that attorney has not yet filed his or her appearance and plea of Not Guilty on your behalf, you are required to attend this hearing.

NOTICE OF APPEARANCE

Should you retain an Attorney, he or she will file a Notice of Appearance on your behalf. This document informs the Judge, the Prosecutor and the Clerk's office that an Attorney represents you. It also directs the prosecutor to forward all future correspondence to your Attorney.
Your Attorney should also file a written plea of Not Guilty in order to secure your right to a trial. This does not mean that the case will go to trial, only that you will have a right to a trial if you so desire one. There is always the potential to settle a case anytime prior to trial.
Your Attorney should also file a "Demand for Discovery". This requires the Prosecutor to provide your Attorney with certain information, such as Police reports and lists of evidence and witnesses. This information is referred to as "Discovery."

THE DISCOVERY PROCESS

After the Prosecutor receives your Attorney's Demand for Discovery, he or she is obligated to respond. Once your Attorney has received discovery, he or she will evaluate the information and, if permitted, will schedule a deposition of the Prosecutor's witnesses. Your Attorney may also obtain any audio or videotapes, which the Prosecutor may have.
A deposition involves taking sworn testimony from a witness. Depositions are attended by the witnesses, your Attorney, the Prosecutor and a Court Reporter. The right to take depositions in misdemeanor cases is limited by law. Therefore, depositions are most often conducted in felony cases.
The Prosecutor will not be allowed to take your deposition, as you have the right to remain silent. However, the Prosecutor may depose any witnesses that your Attorney has listed for your defense.
You are not permitted to attend depositions without the approval of the Judge. You should be informed by your Attorney of the date of depositions, but unless notified otherwise, you do not need to make arrangements to attend.

PRETRIAL CONFERENCE

A Pretrial Conference will be scheduled several weeks after the Arraignment. A Pretrial hearing enables the Judge to determine whether or not the case can be settled. Most Judges require your presence at the Pretrial Conference. Therefore, unless you are specifically excused, you must plan to attend.
If you settle your case by a change of plea at the Pretrial hearing, the Judge will normally impose a sentence at that time.

TRIAL

You may decide to take your case to trial. If that is your decision, the case may require substantial preparation. Preparation should include the review of all testimony and evidence by your Attorney. Please note that a significant number of cases do not proceed to trial; most are resolved through negotiation and plea bargain.
Some criminal offenses (such as violation of probation) are tried only by a Judge, not a jury. However, most criminal charges entitle you to a trial by jury. In this situation, the Judge will decide the questions of law and the Jury will decide your guilt or innocence.


*Disclaimer: This web site has been designed to provide educational information only and is not intended to offer legal advice. Every case is unique and outcomes will vary depending upon the facts and legal issues of your case. Please do not make any decisions about any legal matter without consulting with an attorney first. There is no Attorney Client relationship formed by any use of the information provided.