After an arrest for DUI in North County, which includes the major population areas of Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Fallbrook, Carlsbad, and Encinitas, the police reports are forwarded to the North San Diego County District Attorney's Office in Vista for issuing. If the person arrested is still in custody, they must appear in Court within 3 Court days, if released on bail the first Court date is usually set off 30 days on a misdemeanor and 7 days on a felony DUI.
The purpose of the first Court date or arraignment is to formally advise the defendant of their charges. Generally these charges are the same as the arrest, however, the D.A. can add, delete, or change charges based on the police reports, lab results, or additional information or investigation received prior to filing the case. Sometimes the D.A. does not have all the reports or labs by the filing date and charges are filed later. They must be filed within the statute of limitations which is 1 year from the arrest on a misdemeanor or 3 years on a felony DUI.
An attorney can appear for a defendant on a misdemeanor and with a defendant on a felony. A "not guilty plea" is entered and a request for a copy of the police reports and evidence in the case is made to the D.A. The Judges expect a plea of "not guilty" because the defendant and the attorney have not had access to the evidence prior to the first Court date. The case is continued for a negotiation or readiness date 3-4 weeks away in order to give the defendant and his attorney time to review the evidence. The negotiation or "plea bargaining" date may be continued several times and there may even be technical motion hearings concerning things like probable cause for the stop etc.
Ultimately, if a settlement cannot be reached the case proceeds to a trial date for trial. Sometimes, cases are settled on the trial date. Most cases, about 98%, are settled through a negotiated settlement and few actually go to trial. It is important for an experienced DUI attorney to not only review the evidence for possible defenses and issues, but also address other individual factors and circumstances involved.
Christoph Law Offices have handled over 3000+ DUIs and have been located across from Vista Courts for over 30 years. Attorneys Nicholas and William Christoph deal on a daily basis with North County Judges, Prosecutors, Clerks and Law Enforcement personnel and can help you achieve the best result in your case. Call for a free evaluation and consultation 760-941-5720.