If contacted in time, I will set the hearing, request that the suspension not start until after the hearing is over, and a copy of the discovery. Do not expect to win this. More reasonable is to expect an early copy of the police report, lab evidence, and some limited ability to start the suspension at a time more convenient to you.
The firm can appear at your arraignment. There are three choices at an arraignment: guilty, no contest (also known as nolo contendre), and not guilty.
Pleading Guilty is an admission of all the charges and the underlying facts. This is rare.
Pleading No Contest
This plea is reserved for cases where the defendant feels there is no chance of beating the charges. The defendant admits the facts in the case may be true and serves a sentence as if the defendant plead guilty. This is far more common than a guilty plea in most counties, and usually is involved in some sort of overall plea bargain.
Pleading Not Guilty
This plea results in a case being set for a pre-trial conference or a trial, depending on the circumstances. In many counties, this is required to even get to talk to the District Attorney about a case.
I will make an informal request (as required by law prior to making a formal discovery motion) for discovery from the prosecutor. In Contra Costa County, the DA will just give a copy of the police report and then stonewall everything else until compelled by order from a judge.
Sometimes a court will schedule a pre-trial conference. This is a conference where the prosecutor, judge, and your attorney talk about your case. Many (most?) cases will have multiple PTCs. Early ones will be merely status-of-case discussions - telling them what discovery (evidence) I still need from the DA. Later ones will involve negotiating and then filing motions if the negotiations don't go the way the defense wants. Eventually, once all motions have been filed and litigated, and if negotiations still don't result in a fair deal, then the phrase Pre-Trial Conference takes on a new meaning - preparing for a jury trial... These negotiations can be quite intense and can in some cases almost approach a mini-trial in the judge's chambers (no witnesses, just assertions, but still just as detailed as a full-scale trial).
All DUI Contracts include (as appropriate and desired) four motions: Compel Discovery; Pitchess (discover issues relating to the officers background); Serna (for cases more than one year old); 1538.5 (motion to suppress the alcohol evidence and maybe more).
Jury Trial Services
The Trial Threat
There is nothing a District Attorney loves more than a defendant who will roll over, accept the offer, and take their punishment with minimal-to-no work for them. The threat of having to actually prepare for a jury trial (lots of work) can sometimes be enough to improve their offer and get that last little thing the defense wants. This can be true for any county where the District Attorney's office is understaffed. Are any California Counties hurting for cash right now? hmmm... However, because on the overall most cases settle before a trial, the DA might not believe that threat - and definitely won't if the attorney has a history of caving in after threatening a trial. I am willing to level a trial threat at a Pre-Trial Conference after a trial-inclusive contract has been signed and paid in full.
Motions In Limine
Motions in Limine are among the final steps in a criminal case. At this point, the case has already been sent out to the trial courtroom. Here, issues like hearsay and other evidence code issues are dealt with (Constitutional issues, as opposed to evidence code issues, are handled in the 1538.5 Motions to Suppress... see Motions above).
This happens immediately after the motions in limine are argued - usually the same day. Here, a panel of perhaps 50+ prospective jurors gets whittled down to 12 plus perhaps an alternate juror or two.
After Jury Selection (Voir Dire), the judge will give basic introductory instructions to the jury. Then the prosecutor gives an opening statement, followed by the defense.
The prosecution will have its witnesses testify first. After the prosecutor is done asking questions of their own witness(direct examination), I get to ask questions of their witness(cross examination).
After the prosecution is done presenting all of its witnesses, the defense can call its witnesses. The defense is not required to call any witnesses however, and if reasonable doubt can be shown through the prosecution's witness's testimony, it can frequently be desirable for the defense to rest without calling any witnesses of its own.
After both sides have completed any evidence presentation, it is time for closing arguments. During this phase of the trial, counties can differ. In many counties, the prosecutor gets to go first and last on the closing arguments.
Post-trial Motions and Sentencing Hearing
After the closing arguments, the jury deliberates and comes back with a verdict. If it is not-guilty, the case is over and we walk out of the courtroom. If the verdict is guilty, then post-trial motions are handled immediately. A sentencing hearing will occassionally be right after the trial, but is frequently a few days later so both sides can prepare sentencing statements if they desire.
If convicted after a bad ruling by a judge - such as denying the defense a critical piece of evidence - an appeal is an option. I do not handle these, and if you seek to appeal, I will help you find a qualified appellate specialist.
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