A misdemeanor DUI is when you commit a first or second DUI offense. In Idaho, the first two DUI offenses are considered a misdemeanor if no injury, accident or fatality is involved. Misdemeanor DUI typically carries lighter penalties compared to a felony DUI which carries harsher penalties.
If you have been charged with misdemeanor DUI, you will have to undergo arraignment, pre-trial conference and trial proceedings. These three phases mark the court procedure of the misdemeanor offense. You can represent yourself at these stages but it’s best to have a professional attorney represent you.
The Arraignment after a Misdemeanor DUI
Your arraignment is your first appearance before the court following a DUI arrest. At this appearance, the court asks you whether or not you plead guilty to the DUI charges brought up against you. Typically, you should plead not guilty although your DUI defense attorney in the Boise area can best advise you on this.
It is important to have an attorney on your side at this stage. If you don’t have one, the court will ask you if you require a public defender. A public defender will represent you at little to no cost, although you may not get the best legal representation.
The court will also advise you about your constitutional rights at the arraignment. These include the right to have an attorney or public defender represent you, the right to a speedy trial, the right to jury trial, the right to question witnesses and the right to remain silent.
If you have an attorney and you have decided to enter a plea of not guilty, you are not legally required to be present at the arraignment. Your attorney will simply enter the plea on your behalf and receive the discovery documents from the prosecutor. Discovery is the body of evidence against you.
The Pre-Trial Conference
The pre-trial conference is a meeting which takes place before the actual DUI trial. This conference is a final opportunity for you and the prosecution to reach some sort of agreement. A judge is present at the pre-trial conference, as is your attorney and the prosecutor.
The prosecutor may offer you a plea arrangement at this meeting. If there is insufficient evidence against you, your attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain. Plea bargains typically comprise of a reduced charge, such as wet reckless, instead of DUI.
It is common to see plea agreements reached in a misdemeanor DUI case during the pre-trial proceedings. This is because the misdemeanor penalties are relatively light. Instead of a few days or few weeks of jail time, for instance, your attorney may be able to request community service.
If you plead not guilty in the pre-trial conference, your case goes to a trial. You have the option of choosing between a judge and a jury trial. Nearly all DUI defendants will choose a jury trial. This is because it is easier to defend yourself in front of the 12-person jury. Only one of the 12 jurors needs to return a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict to prevent a sentencing.
Your attorney and the prosecutor are involved in selecting a jury. In doing so, your attorney is able to prevent such individuals from becoming jurors who may be biased against you or the circumstances of your case. Jury selection is an important part of the DUI trial.
During the trial itself, the state presents its case against you. The police officer who arrested you will offer testimony to support the state’s case. The prosecution also presents other documentary evidence. Your attorney has the option of cross-examining the witnesses. The defense can also file a motion at this stage to have the case dismissed.
Ultimately, if all the jurors return a ‘Guilty’ verdict, the court pronounces penalties for your DUI offense. If even one juror returns a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict, this is referred to as a hung jury. In such a case, the prosecution may prepare its case once again, drop the charges altogether or try to strike a plea bargain with you.
Hiring a Qualified Boise DUI Attorney to Help with a Misdemeanor DUI
When you are facing DUI charges, it is important to hire good legal help. A qualified Boise DUI defense law firm will help you through all the stages of a DUI case and trial. Most importantly, the attorney will help you reach a suitable plea arrangement, avoiding both the hassle and costs of the court trial.
Here at Boise DUI Guy, we help you prepare a solid defense against your DUI charges. Our attorney will work with you to seek minimum sentence or have the charges dropped. Contact us now for a FREE consultation with our attorneys.