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Photo of attorneys David F. Fessler, Joseph F. Grimme and Timothy E. Schneider

What happens at a DUI preliminary hearing

On Behalf of | May 13, 2020 | Firm News

Those who are arrested for DUI in Kentucky will want to know what happens after they are apprehended. One of the first things that occurs after a defendant is charged is the preliminary hearing. This is not a trial in itself, but the judge will be making a decision whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

The defendant will be asked to enter a plea at the preliminary hearing. The defendant might plead not guilty no matter what the evidence is. Otherwise, the entire process would be skipped, and the defendant would proceed directly to sentencing without the opportunity to negotiate a plea bargain.

After the plea is entered, the judge will proceed to listen to both sides explain their case. The judge will likely ask the government to present evidence. This is not to show that the defendant is guilty of the crime. Instead, it is to demonstrate to the judge that there is enough evidence to move forward. This can even involve the questioning of witnesses and cross examination.

However, defendants should know that a preliminary hearing is rare in most DUI cases. In a large majority of cases, the defendant will plead guilty after they are arraigned and will enter into a plea bargain with the government. The preliminary hearing is only held if the case proceeds after arraignment.

Those who have been arrested for DUI may want an attorney right after they are taken into custody. Much can happen quickly in a DUI case, so it may be beneficial to have a DUI attorney. The attorney may be able to help their client negotiate a guilty plea in exchange for reduced punishment. Prosecutors frequently plea bargain their DUI cases, especially when it is a first offense for the defendant.