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DUI & DWI Criminal Process

My friend has been arrested for drunk driving - How can I get him out? How does bail work? Can he be released on his Own Recognizance (O.R.)? How come bail is so high for DUI charges? Can anything be done to lower the bail?

In general, when someone is arrested for an infraction or misdemeanor, they may be released with a citation based upon their promise to appear. Things are different when it comes to felonies or "wobblers." (Wobblers are cases that can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors.) In those cases, while it is possible to be released on their own recognizance, a bail hearing may be required.

Each county has a bail schedule, which lists the bail that applies to each different type of case. It is possible to get that amount lowered, depending upon the type of crime that is charged, and the history of each individual defendant. The court will consider such factors as the seriousness of the offense, the defendant's criminal record, and whether or not the defendant is a flight risk.

Bail may be posted directly with the court clerk or law enforcement agency having custody of the defendant, or a bail bondsman may be used. In general, a bail bondsman will require a fee of 10% of the amount of the bail. This fee belongs to the bail bondsman; you will not get it refunded. The bail bondsman will also require collateral to secure the bond.

What is the process get to trial in a misdemeanor case? What is the process in a felony case? What is a preliminary hearing?

When someone is arrested, the criminal process will vary, depending upon whether they are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor case is one where the maximum punishment is one year in county jail, a fine, or a combination of jail and a fine. In a felony case, the punishment is much more severe and can include confinement in state prison, or in some extremely serious cases, death.

In a misdemeanor case, the first appearance is called the arraignment. The main purpose of the arraignment is for the accused to enter a plea. If the accused pleads not guilty, the case is scheduled for pre-trial conferences and then trial. A conviction requires all jurors to agree that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In felony cases, the first appearance is arraignment. Next, the case is set for a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is a hearing in front of a judge (not a jury), where the judge listens to the testimony of witnesses and determines whether there is sufficient evidence to make the defendant stand trial.

If the judge decides that there is enough evidence for the accused to be brought to trial, the defendant has another arraignment, pre-trial conferences, and then trial. A conviction requires all jurors to agree that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The number of jurors can vary from state to state. However, in criminal cases, all states require that all jurors unanimously agree in guilt to support a conviction.

Can my prior convictions be used against me?

That depends on what they are and when they happened. This is a complicated question and is definitely a situation where consultation with a criminal defense lawyer that focuses on the defense of DUI or DWI cases is important.

Prior drunk driving, DUI, DWI, OUI, or OWI convictions can have a dramatic impact on the punishment for a later DUI case. For more information about DUI or drunk driving cases, contact one of our qualified DUI or DWI defense lawyers.

Prior convictions can affect many issues in a criminal case, from bail to sentencing. If you or someone you care about needs advice about a case involving a prior conviction, contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation.

I'm on probation for drunk driving and was just arrested for a new DUI case. What do I do now? Will the old judge find out about the new case? Will the new judge find out about the old case?

This is a delicate situation, and the best approach depends on many factors. It is imperative that you discuss this type of situation with a DUI defense lawyer who can best represent your interests in both the new case and the probation violation case.

Is there anything that I can do to clean up my criminal record?

Absolutely. A criminal record can hold a person back from getting jobs or promotions they deserve, getting into schools, or just moving on in life, and feeling like they have closed the door on a chapter of the past.

Misdemeanors can be dismissed, and a judgment of not guilty entered. Felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors, and then dismissed. It may also be possible to obtain a certificate of rehabilitation and a pardon. The process will vary from state to state, and county to county, so it is important to talk to a lawyer in your area. Read more about the Expungement of criminal records.