THE COURT PROCESS
After being arrested and cited for DUI/OVI, you will now be entering the court process. The typical DUI/OVI case goes through the following court process:
To help ease you through each step of the court process, each step is broken down for more informative information.
At your arraignment, a judge or magistrate will call your case and explain the charge against you and inform you of your rights. In addition, the judge or magistrate will explain to you that you can enter a plea of guilty, no contest, or not guilty. Due to the serious consequences a DUI/OVI can bring to an individual, most courts will not accept a guilty plea or no contest plea until you are able to meet with an attorney.
Most courts will allow you to continue your arraignment in order to hire an attorney for your DUI/OVI charges. Other courts will require you to enter a not guilty plea and set your case for a pre-trial in order to retain an attorney.
If you hire our office prior to your arraignment court date, our office can file a notice of appearance and not guilty plea on your behalf with the court, which will automatically cancel your arraignment date. If you cannot hire an attorney before your arraignment court date, it is imperative that you show up to court on that date! If you fail to show the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest! That is not how you want to start your case!
In addition, you may appeal your Administrative License Suspension at your arraignment. However, every court is different with regards to the Administrative License Suspension appeal process. Some courts allow attorneys to file an appeal along with their notice of appearance, while other courts want the appeal to be heard at the arraignment. Because of this, it is critical that you speak with an attorney that fully understands the court hearing your DUI/OVI charge.
A pre-trial conference is typically held with the prosecutor and the judge to discuss your DUI/OVI case. During this conference, Tom will present your argument and receive from the prosecutor’s office the evidence they plan to use against you. This evidence is often referred to as discovery.
Depending on your fact specific case, the prosecutor may offer a plea deal at the pre-trial conference. Typical plea deals include Reckless Operation and Physical Control. These types of plea deals are often offered to first time DUI/OVI offenders. It is not uncommon, however, for individuals with prior DUI/OVIs to be offered a plea deal at the pre-trial stage. Prior to accepting any plea deal, Tom will discuss with you what the plea deal entails, the likelihood of obtaining a better result at trial, and any other potential options.
Sometimes, the prosecutor may not offer a plea deal at your first pre-trial or Tom might want to review the evidence against you prior to accepting the plea deal. In those situations, and depending on the court, your case may be set for a second pre-trial or status. This allows Tom and yourself the opportunity to review the evidence that will be used against you, to include a possible cruiser camera video. At the second pre-trial or status, the prosecutor may or may not offer a plea deal. Once again, Tom will discuss with you what the plea deal entails, the likelihood of obtaining a better result at trial, and any other potential options. If you do not want to take the plea deal offered or if no plea deal was offered in your case, Tom will discuss with you the possible suppression issues in your case.
Motion to Suppress Hearing
A motion to suppress hearing allows an individual to suppress harmful evidence that may be used against them at trial. Some reasons to suppress this type of evidence may include the police officer violating your constitutional rights (i.e. stopping your vehicle, prolonging the stop, requiring you to exit your vehicle, etc.), the police officer improperly conducting field sobriety tests, the police officer’s arrest decision, and possible issues with a chemical test (breath, urine, and blood).
The suppression hearing is similar to a trial in the sense that the judge will hear the motion, and both the prosecutor and defense attorney present evidence to support their respective arguments. However, at the end of the hearing, the judge does not determine if you are guilty or not guilty of the DUI/OVI. Instead, the judge determines if your constitutional rights were violated, if the police officer was or was not in substantial compliance when administrating the field sobriety tests, and/or if the police officer was or was not in compliance with The Ohio Department of Health standards when administering a chemical test.
Trial is often considered the last resort when all other options have been exhausted in your DUI/OVI case. During a trial, the prosecutor and defense attorney present evidence and their respective arguments to either a jury or to the judge if you elect a bench trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury or judge will determine whether you are guilty of DUI/OVI or if you are not guilty of DUI/OVI.
A typical DUI/OVI trial lasts anywhere from 1 full day to 2 or 3 days. The length of trial is fact specific to your case.
A sentencing hearing is conducted if you accepted a plea deal, decided to plea as charged, or were found guilty at trial. No matter the outcome, Tom works to mitigate the consequences you face from the court. This includes avoiding a license suspension, obtaining a bare minimum license suspension, securing driving privileges, avoiding jail, avoiding restrictive license plates, and avoiding any alcohol monitoring devices.
DO NOT LET A DUI/OVI CONVICTION RUIN YOUR LIFE!
Do not take on these serious charges alone. Attorney Tom Kopacz of Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues will assess all the evidence that will be used against you (i.e. Breath Tests, Field Sobriety Tests, Officer Observations, etc.), spot the weakness of the police officer’s and prosecutor’s case, formulate defenses in your favor, utilize the weakness in the prosecutor’s case and your defenses to negotiate a favorable outcome, and work to Minimize The Negative Consequences.