If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Alabama, your case will be handled in a particular court depending on the specifics surrounding your arrest. If this is your first or second DUI, your case will be a misdemeanor and will be handled in either a Municipal or District Court located in the county where you were arrested. Third-offense DUIs or DUIs resulting in the serious injury or death of another person, however, are felony offenses and will be handled in the District Court in the county where you were arrested. Under certain circumstances, felony DUI cases may also be heard in the Circuit Court of the county where your arrest took place.
The DUI process in Alabama typically involves the following steps:
1. Arraignment: This is the first time you attend court and face your charges. You will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
2. Preliminary hearing: The courts will examine the facts surrounding your arrest and analyze whether or not enough evidence exists to warrant a trial. Evidence and witnesses will be brought by the state and can be questioned by the defense. Cases are either dismissed due to insufficient evidence or proceed towards a trial.
3. Possible trial and appeal: If enough evidence exists, your case may go to trial. This involves both the prosecution and defense making opening statements, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making closing arguments. After both sides have had a chance to present their case, a judge will issue a verdict.
Will There Be a Jury?
Municipal or District Courts do not allow you the right to a jury trial. If your case is tried in either of these courts, you will have a bench trial before a judge without a jury. If you prevail in this court, your case will be completed. On the other hand, if you are convicted, you may appeal your conviction with the Circuit Court by filing a notice of appeal and perfecting an appeal bond within 14 days of receiving the disputed verdict. You will be entitled to a jury trial in Circuit Court if your appeal is approved by the courts.
As you can see, the DUI court process can be extremely complex and is not be something you should attempt to face alone. If convicted, you could be faced with expensive fines, jail time, probation, and a damaged reputation that can follow you for years to come. A strong legal team can protect your rights and fight to secure a reduction or dismissal of your charges on your behalf.
Arrested? Contact a Skilled Birmingham DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI, it is vital you retain the services of a powerful criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of Jeffry G. Hester as soon as possible to protect yourself against serious consequences. Having protected accused clients throughout Alabama for more than 15 years, we have what it takes to maximize your chances of securing a desirable outcome for your situation.
Call (205) 861-0980 or schedule a free consultation online today to review your legal options.