Being arrested for a DUI is often intimidating and frightening. Most individuals arrested for a DUI are not career criminals. They are average people with families and jobs who might have made a poor decision and had a lapse in judgment. In some cases, they may be completely innocent and were only arrested due to shoddy police work. Understanding what comes next after a DUI arrest can help make your experience less overwhelming and give you a better chance at a positive outcome. Keep in mind that the best way to find out the specifics in your own DUI charges is to hire a Knoxville DUI attorney who can explain what to expect and tell you what you need to know.
The Traffic Stop And The Charges
Maybe you were headed home from a night on the town with some good friends or enjoyed some wine after work with a colleague. Suddenly, you saw flashing lights behind you and heard the sirens. Before you knew it, you were charged with a DUI.
After an arrest, DUI detainees are typically taken to the local police department and processed. Generally, you will be released in the morning with a summons indicating that you need to appear in court at a specific date and time. In some cases, you may have to post bail to secure your release before your court date.
If the court requires that you post bail, you will not be released until it is paid in full. Bail ensures the court that you will appear in court when asked to do so. If you have the financial means or someone who is willing to post bail for you, you will be released with a court date, usually within a few weeks. If you cannot pay or own bail or know someone who can, you can contact a bail bond agent for help.
The First Hearing
Your first court appearance will be to advise you of the charges against you and determine if you have or need legal representation. If you can afford to hire your own DUI attorney, do so. If you can’t, now is the time to find out if you qualify for the free services of a public defender. The court will also ask how you plead to the charges – guilty or not guilty. You should never plead guilty to charges without first consulting an experienced DUI defense attorney.
Misdemeanor cases that were not resolved with a guilty plea during the initial hearing will proceed to a hearing in general sessions court. Some cases are resolved at this stage through plea agreements with the prosecutor. Generally speaking, defendants without representation are not offered plea agreements, so it is important to have a skilled negotiator representing you who can fight to have your charges and penalties reduced if you agree to plead guilty.
You might also have a trial without a jury, which is called a bench trial and is decided by the judge. This is only an option in misdemeanor DUI cases. On the other hand, your attorney might request a continuance and have your case moved to circuit court where discovery privileges are greater.
Circuit Court Arraignment
If your attorney moves your case, you will then be arraigned in the circuit court, which paves the way for your lawyer to file their discovery motions. In these motions, they will ask to see copies of your test results, statements, and other information that the prosecution is using to build their case against you. You are then allowed to see the video evidence against you.
If you face felony DUI charges, a grand jury will need to decide that probable cause exists to charge you with a felony offense, which will lead to an arraignment in circuit court as well.
Two discussion dates will be assigned in your case. The first will be to make sure the discovery process is complete, and the second is for case review and to allow motions to be filed. If you and your attorney want to file a motion to dismiss your traffic stop, it must be done at this point. This decision will be made once your attorney has reviewed all of the discovery evidence. You will also be given a plea date. If your case is not dismissed and does not end a plea deal, you will be given a trial date.
Arrested For DUI? Call A Knoxville DUI Attorney
What happens after a DUI arrest can be confusing and overwhelming for many people, but you do not have to endure this ordeal alone. As soon as you can, meet with a DUI defense attorney who can determine the best strategy and defenses to fight your charges.
Call the Barnes and Fersten Law Firm at 865-805-5703 to schedule your consultation today or use our online contact form. We also offer the convenient option of confidential online video consultations for potential clients who cannot come to our physical location.
Attorney At Law, Managing Partner
Brandon D. Fersten is an esteemed Knoxville attorney practicing DUI, criminal defense, and juvenile law. Known for his empathetic approach and commitment to his clients, he brings a record of favorable case outcomes including dismissals and not guilty verdicts at jury trials resulting in Brandon being recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Criminal Defense, U.S. News’ Best Lawyers: “Ones to Watch,” and Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars”. Brandon’s professional accolades, combined with his passion for justice, position him as a reliable criminal defense advocate in the East Tennessee legal landscape.