In Florida, an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) usually triggers two separate cases. A driver license suspension is determined in an administrative law proceeding, while any criminal charges against the driver are prosecuted through the criminal justice system. In the criminal action, DUI arraignments are one of the first legal proceedings held in court. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., our St. Petersburg DUI attorneys can provide representation at all stages of a DUI case, including the arraignment. We are prepared to defend your rights and guide you through your DUI arraignment.Florida DUI Arraignments
An individual’s due process rights include the right to be informed of the nature of the charges against them. An arraignment is a criminal legal proceeding at which a defendant is formally notified of the crimes they have been accused of committing. In a DUI case, the date of the arraignment is usually several weeks following an arrest. If you have a lawyer to represent you in your DUI case, your lawyer can file a notice with the court waiving your appearance at the arraignment. Your attorney can then attend the arraignment on your behalf, reschedule the arraignment for a later date, or waive it in some cases. Your attendance at the DUI arraignment is otherwise mandatory, although you can always retain legal representation afterward
At a DUI arraignment, the presiding judge will state the specific offense that has been charged against the defendant. The type of offense will depend on the facts of the case. For instance, if the defendant is accused of causing a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol, they may be charged with an aggravated DUI. The charge will determine the sentencing range and potential penalties for a conviction.Entering a Plea to a DUI Charge
The arraignment is one of the first chances you have to contest a DUI charge. At a DUI arraignment, you have the opportunity to enter a plea to the charges against you. Although a lawyer can provide advice and guidance throughout the process, the decision of which plea to enter is ultimately made by the person who is charged. There are three types of pleas in a DUI case, which are explained as follows.Not Guilty
A plea of not guilty is a formal denial of the charges against you. When you plead not guilty, the prosecution will have the burden of proving each element of the alleged DUI offense beyond a reasonable doubt. You can also request a trial in front of a judge or jury. As a practical matter, pleading not guilty allows time for investigation of the facts of the case, the discovery process and exchange of evidence, and negotiations with the state attorney for a possible plea agreement.Guilty
When you plead guilty to a DUI charge, you are both admitting to the crime and waiving many of your constitutional rights, including your right to a trial by jury. Entering a guilty plea will result in a DUI conviction and sentencing by the judge. It is extremely important to understand the significance of entering a guilty plea in your case before doing so.No Contest
Pleading no contest means that you will not defend against the charges. In DUI cases, no contest pleas are often entered by a defendant who has accepted a plea deal with the prosecution.Consult an Attorney in the St. Petersburg Area
If you have been notified of a court date for your DUI case, you can hire a lawyer to represent you. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., our experienced attorneys handle DUI arraignments in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa Bay, and courthouses throughout Pinellas County. We can navigate people through complicated legal proceedings and advocate for a favorable outcome in a DUI or drug case. Schedule your free consultation today by calling 727-286-6141 or contacting us online.