What Happens at a DUI Trial?

The DUI trial process in Illinois can be complicated, with required filings and several court hearings that require detailed preparation. Chicago DUI lawyer Michael O’Meara has over 20 years of experience in navigating the court system. With his experience behind you, your case will have the best possible chances of success if you go to trial for a DUI.

To find out how you can avoid the harsh consequences of a DUI conviction, call 312-909-0706 today.

Preliminary Hearing and Plea Bargaining

After you are arrested, you must attend an arraignment hearing. The judge will ask you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, then they will set your bail amount. If you are a first-time offender, your bail amount will be lower than if you’ve had multiple DUIs. An experienced attorney can help at your arraignment. If you’re unable to pay a high bail, your attorney may be able to convince the judge to reduce the amount.

You will also be required to attend a preliminary hearing. This hearing is used to determine whether the prosecution has enough evidence to move on with the case. The prosecutor will present their evidence and the judge will determine whether there is enough probable cause that you committed a crime. Evidence may include police officer testimony and breathalyzer or other chemical tests.

Your attorney can dispute evidence that is being presented against you. Your lawyer can challenge some of the prosecutor’s evidence by filing motions to suppress. These formal requests aim to remove any illegally obtained evidence from the case. For instance, if the authorities did not follow proper procedures when giving you a blood test, the result of that blood test may be suppressed. With little evidence left against you, the judge may decide to dismiss your case at the preliminary hearing.

Depending on what happens at the preliminary hearing, you may wish to engage in plea agreement negotiations. This involves working with the prosecution to strike an agreement under which you plead guilty in exchange for decreased penalties. You may be able to avoid jail time altogether. You should always have your lawyer involved in the bargaining process. Beyond representing your side with authority, your defense attorney can help you evaluate the fairness of an offer.

Steps of a DUI Trial

The majority of DUI cases never make it to trial. They either end with a plea agreement or the accused obtaining a case dismissal. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to fight for your freedom at trial, where the prosecutor will need to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If your Chicago DUI lawyer can show there is some doubt as to your guilt, you may get acquitted.

The steps for a DUI trial in Illinois include:

  • Selecting a jury.
  • Opening statements from the prosecution and the defense. These often include the evidence that each side will use.
  • Witness testimony. This may include statements made by the arresting officers and in some cases eyewitnesses of the event.
  • The opportunity for each side to cross-examine witnesses.
  • Closing arguments that explain why the evidence presented prove guilt or innocence.
  • The jury being informed of their duty to reach a fair decision.
  • Jury deliberation and the delivery of a verdict.
  • Sentencing hearing where the judge will determine the sentence based on arguments by the defense and the prosecution.

How Michael O’Meara can Defend Your Rights

At O’Meara Law, we understand how frustrating and stressful it can be to pass through the criminal justice system. Perhaps you are worried about losing your job, or maybe you are afraid that your family will be negatively affected. In any case, the only way you will be able to avoid a criminal conviction is by seeking legal assistance. By advocating forcefully on your behalf at every step of the way, we will help you get the best outcome possible under the circumstances.

Call Chicago DUI attorney Michael O’Meara at 312-909-0706 today to learn more about how you may be able to obtain a positive resolution to your DUI case.