The 3 Steps During The Misdemeanor DUI Court Process

In Florida, if you are arrested and charged with a misdemeanor DUI, you will have two separate cases—one civil and one criminal.  


A negative outcome for a DUI criminal case will have severe consequences in Florida, so if you are charged with a DUI, you need to make sure you know what to expect. The criminal court process for a DUI is split into three main steps: arraignment, pre-trial, and the trial itself. 


Attorney Ben Stechschulte explains the general steps of the court process for DUI – contact us with questions about your unique case; we offer a free DUI case review.  



Step 1: The Arraignment  


The arraignment is the first step in the Florida DUI court process. It does come right after the first appearance, although that is more of a formality than a proper step. The first appearance is a hearing that is held in jail within 24 hours of your arrest for the DUI. 


During the first appearance, the judge will inform you of your charges and review the police report.  


The judge will determine at this hearing if there is probable cause for your detention. You will also be informed of your right to hire an attorney. 


After the first appearance, the arraignment is a formal hearing where you are charged with DUI, and at this point, you will make your plea of not guilty, guilty, or no contest. If you are represented by a private attorney at this time, you do not have to attend—the attorney will file paperwork that will waive your appearance at this hearing. If you do not have an attorney, you must attend. 


If you enter a plea of not guilty after hearing the charges, your attorney will request a date for a pretrial conference on your behalf. At this point, your attorney will start investigating any additional evidence that may benefit your case. 



Step 2: The Pretrial Conference 


The next step in the misdemeanor DUI court process is the pretrial conference. This happens within a few weeks of the arraignment and before the trial. Think of this as an update to the judge on the progression of your DUI case. 


Leading up to the pretrial conference, your attorney has the option to file many pretrial motions. The most popular types of pretrial motions are: 


  • The Demand for Discovery  
  • Pretrial Motions (motion to suppress, motion to dismiss, motion to compel, and motion in limine).  


During the pretrial conference, the prosecutor may present an offer to help resolve the case. If an agreement or plea has not been reached at this point, the judge will set a date to proceed with the DUI trial. 



Learn More > What is Discovery in a DUI Case?  



Step 3: The DUI Trial  


A jury trial can be stressful and lengthy. Most trials last between five days and two weeks. But a good attorney will know that a jury trial can be advantageous if they feel they have enough evidence and testimony to successfully argue your case. 



A misdemeanor DUI trial is a jury by peers; there are six jurors (and one alternate) and to be convicted of a DUI, you need to have a unanimous verdict.  


That means, if your attorney feels your case is strong enough, they only need to convince one of the six jurors that you are not guilty. 


It is important to know that in Florida, many DUI cases are resolved before reaching the date of trial. The government—also known as the prosecution—will do everything it can to prove its case against you and find you guilty. If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced immediately. Sentencing may include paying court costs, classes, fines, community service, and even incarceration. 


If you are found not guilty, you will be immediately released and you will be free to walk away without a DUI conviction on your record. 



Learn More > Is a Defense Lawyer Necessary for a DUI Arraignment?  



The Importance of a Private Attorney During the DUI Court Process 


A DUI conviction in Florida is serious; a conviction that will follow you for the rest of your life. There are many steps in the court process, all of which can decide the fate of your future and should not be taken lightly or alone. 


If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI in Florida, you need to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys at Stechschulte Nell Law. Our attorneys go through the DUI court process daily and are knowledgeable and experienced in the system and know how to fight for you and your case.  


Do not go through this court process alone, call us at (813) 280-1244 and let us represent you. 



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