What Comes Next?
The DUI attorneys at The William Moore Law Firm has years of experience in representing individuals arrested for driving under the influence in Fort Lauderdale. Charges for a DUI are considered Criminal Charges under the Florida Law. It is important to know your rights and seek out legal representation if arrested for this offense. Contact the Broward County DUI Attorneys at William Moore Criminal Defense for answers to any questions that you may have.
After you are arrested for DUI, and assuming you are not released without bond or to a pre-trial release program, you will either have to post the full amount of your bond or pay a commercial bail bondsman. If you use a commercial bail bondsman you are required to pay a percentage of the total amount of the bond (usually 10%) which is considered a fee to the bondsman and will not be returned to you upon the resolution of your case. Paying the bond in full entitles you to a return of this money at the end of your case provided that it is not held to pay court costs and fines if you are convicted. Often friends or family post a bond for someone who has been arrested for DUI and are typically reimbursed by the person arrested later on. If someone posts a bond on your behalf, it is advisable to have that individual assign the rights to that bond over to you once you have reimbursed them. This is done easily through the use of a Bond Assignment Form. When having a bond assigned to you, make sure you obtain a blue copy of the Bond Receipt that was provided to the individual who posted your bail.
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Following your arrest, you will receive notice of an arraignment date provided that the police officers who arrested you noted your proper mailing address. It is always advisable to check the Broward County Clerk website at www.Browardclerk.org to track future court dates in your case. On the date of your arraignment, the judge will ask you to enter a plea of either Guilty, No Contest or Not Guilty. In many cases, the hiring of an attorney who subsequently files a Notice of Appearance and Written Plea of Not Guilty, will obviate the need to even hold an arraignment date before the court. Always be certain that these documents have been filed and never assume that you need not appear at an arraignment unless advised specifically by your attorney. The choice to plead Guilty at arraignment is never advisable because in doing so you waive any opportunity to: (1) review any of the State’s evidence that may otherwise be used against you; (2) the right to file motions to protect your rights; and/or (3) evaluate defenses that you may not even know exist. The law in Florida with regard to DUI prosecution is very complex. Experienced DUI attorneys often achieve successful results (including dismissals) based on technicalities which range anywhere from police misconduct or mistakes, to the unavailability of law enforcement officers because they have either left the jurisdiction or were subject to disciplinary action for unrelated events.
PLEADING NOT GUILTY IS NOT VIEWED NEGATIVELY
The choice to plead Not Guilty at or before arraignment should never be viewed as something that is disfavored by the court. By entering a plea of Not Guilty you allow yourself the opportunity to obtain an experienced attorney who can investigate your arrest and determine if your rights were violated in any way during the investigation and the subsequent arrest process. DUI judges understand that your attorney needs time to adequately determine if law enforcement officers had “reasonable suspicion” to stop your vehicle, “probable cause” to arrest you, and/or if any evidence in the form of statements, breath or urine samples, officer observations and video surveillance were obtained illegally and in violation of your constitutional rights. An experienced DUI attorney knows the value of proceeding with a Motion to Suppress evidence prior to your DUI trial as it is often at these hearings that your attorney obtains the necessary “sworn testimony” which might bring to light a defendant’s available defense. A Motion to Suppress is vital to the defense of a DUI charge because it puts the State in a position to have to prove that your rights were not violated. To do this, the prosecutor must subpoena all necessary law enforcement officers and civilian witnesses to present testimony that fits within the protections of the United States Constitution.
Issues commonly raised in a Motion to Suppress include, but are not limited to, determining whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you, whether statements elicited by you were in violation of your “Miranda” Rights, whether samples of your blood, breath or urine were properly obtained, and/or if any and all evidence was collected accurately and fairly. The judge decides what evidence is admissible. These hearings also provide your attorney with an excellent opportunity to obtain sworn testimony by officers for the third time. (The first at the Administrative Review Hearing, the second at the deposition if allowed by the court, and the third at a Motion to Suppress). With an overwhelming case load and countless hours of working on the job, it is rare for a police officer to recollect the exact facts surrounding a DUI arrest on one occasion, let alone on three.
TRIAL – THE LAST LINE OF DEFENSE
If the prosecutor refuses to break down your DUI charge, and the judge denies your Motion to Suppress/Dismiss, you may then proceed to trial (by judge or jury) and force the State to prove their case beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt. It is widely agreed by experienced DUI attorneys that a DUI trial should be conducted before a 6-person jury, as opposed to the Judge. The right to a trial by jury is an absolute right and should always be exercised. Only the evidence which has been deemed admissible at the previously heard Motion to Suppress hearing will be presented to the jury for consideration. The prosecuting attorney will present whatever evidence is not sustained by objection of defense counsel and at the close of the State’s case, the defense has the opportunity to present evidence to negate the guilt of the defendant although is not required to do so. Experts in the form of toxicologists, breath technicians, accident reconstructionists, lay witnesses with personal knowledge as to how little the defendant had to drink on the night in question, and any other form of relevant admissible evidence may be presented at this stage of the trial. Once the State and your attorney have presented their respective cases and rest, the judge will instruct the jurors on the law they are to follow and they will deliberate. A verdict of Not Guilty ends the process and the accused is free to leave without any obligation whatsoever.