DUI Criminal Case | Florida Court Process for DUI Charge | Tampa

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A DUI Criminal Case

Man being put in handcuffsAvoiding a DUI conviction is our top priority in handling your DUI case. The penalties for even a first-time DUI conviction in Florida can be severe, and can impact you for years. Once you have decided how to address your license suspension, we will focus on shaping the best defense for you against your DUI charge.

What is the Florida Court Process for a DUI Charge?

In Florida, after you are charged with a DUI, you will have to go through an extended court process. There are several steps in the process that are outlined below. We will work with you and prepare you for each step, so that you will always know what to expect and how to act each time you go to court.

Arraignment

The first step in a criminal DUI case is the arraignment. This takes place approximately a month after your DUI arrest. At your arraignment, you need to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. We will enter a not guilty plea on your behalf. Doing so gives us the opportunity to review the prosecution’s evidence against you and present the best defense to your case.

We can discuss with you the option of waiving your appearance, which means that you won’t have to show up in person for the arraignment.

Pre-Trial Conference (Disposition Hearings)

The second step of the court process is a hearing called a Pre-Trial Conference (sometimes referred to as Disposition Hearings), which occurs several weeks after the arraignment. In this hearing, we meet with the judge and the prosecutor. The prosecutor may make a plea-bargain offer, and we will negotiate on your behalf. If the offer is in your best interest, and you decide to accept it, the criminal case will resolve at this stage of the proceedings. If you do not agree to the plea bargain, we will work with the judge to set a date for your trial.

It is routine for DUI cases to have three or more of these hearings. If the judge allows, we will waive your appearance at these hearings as well.

Evidentiary Hearings

There are a variety of evidentiary hearings we may use to prevent the prosecutors from using evidence you at trial. The most common evidentiary hearing we request is a Motion to Suppress hearing. At the Motion to Suppress hearing, we will ask the judge to find that your constitutional rights were violated and evidence in your case was obtained illegally. If we win your hearing, your case may be dismissed at this stage.

Trial

Many cases settle before the trial stage. If you do go to trial, we will use our experience and skill to vigorously defend you. Most DUI trials are jury trials, with six jurors deciding whether you are guilty or not guilty.

The idea of going to trial may give you anxiety. Trials do carry risk. But remember you are never required to prove your innocence. The prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In most DUI trials, we focus on the prosecution’s lack of evidence showing you were impaired. If the jury agrees with us, you will have a not guilty verdict – the ultimate payoff.

Our Focused Approach

Once we step in to defend you against the criminal charge we will focus on making a complete and thorough evaluation of the facts of your case. No two DUI cases are exactly the same, and so we will never apply a “one size fits all” approach to your case.

No two DUI cases are exactly the same.

We have the necessary skills and experience to expose the holes and weaknesses in the State’s case against you. Whether we’re asking the judge to dismiss your case for a violation of your rights or we’re asking the jury to find you not guilty after trial, Hillsborough Defense will give you your best chance at avoiding a DUI conviction.

We will focus on shaping the best defense to your DUI charge.

Working With You for the Best Result

We believe it’s important you understand our approach to defending your case. We will work with you to make sure you understand the why behind our recommendations. Our focus is never on simply pleading out your case so that we can move on to the next client – instead we want to help you achieve the best result possible.

Private Attorney vs Public Defender

It’s to your advantage to hire a private attorney to defend a criminal DUI charge. A DUI conviction will cause serious problems you will have to deal with for the rest of your life. Getting the best defense is too important to leave to chance. If you have an appointed public defender, you don’t know who you are going to get. He or she will be carrying a heavy caseload and might not even be able to meet you before you have to appear in court.

At Hillsborough Defense, we are effective and experienced attorneys who care about our clients. We will give you the best defense possible to help protect your future. We take the time to communicate with you, answer your questions, and prepare you in advance for every step of your case.

Let Us Put Our Experience to Work for You

The criminal justice system can be confusing and even frightening. No one should be facing the serious consequences of a DUI without an experienced attorney to guide them. Let us put our experience to work for you.

 

Photo by Keith Allison / CC BY