Pre-Trial Hearing in Court
After the Arraignment Hearing, assuming you have entered a plea to the Court, your DUI / Criminal Defense lawyer likely scheduled some kind of “Pre-Trial” hearing. In felony cases, the “Pre-Trial” stage comes after the “Arraignment on Information”.
The name may change depending on the county you’re in, as well as whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Every hearing in your case, will remain in this “Pre-Trial” stage until you actually set a date to begin Jury trial. During this “pre-trial” stage of the case, an attorney should be requesting copies of any evidence the District Attorney may have against you, if available. This is done to evaluate the sufficiency of that evidence – if the District Attorney does not have sufficient evidence proving a violation of California Criminal or DUI laws, why would you submit yourself to the harsh consequences of any conviction?
During this stage of proceedings, your DUI / Criminal defense lawyer should also be discussing your case with the District Attorney and trying to come to some kind of resolution with the District Attorney based on the facts, and evidence. In addition, setting the case for some type of “Motion” hearing (more on this below), may also be a viable options during this stage. Once the investigation is complete, your DUI / Criminal Defense Lawyer will then be able to discuss your case with you – the good, the bad, and potential outcome if your case if taken to trial.
During the pre-trial stage of proceedings, your lawyer may deem it necessary to file some type of contested “motion”. The most common is a Motion to Suppress Evidence because of some kind of Fourth Amendment violation (illegal search/seizure, unlawful arrest, etc.). This is a contested hearing and can be thought of as a “mini-trial” on one specific issue (i.e., lawful arrest, lawful stop, lawful search or seizure, etc) – not on whether you are guilty. When an illegal search/seizure is the issue being argued, the judge will hear arguments, and the parties will present evidence regarding the search/seizure. This may include evidence of an unlawful arrest, a lack of Miranda advisement, insufficient probable cause, etc.
In any type of Motion hearing, the Judge is not deciding whether you are guilty of the alleged crimes. The judge is only deciding whether there was a lawful arrest, lawful search/seizure, valid arrest warrant, etc. If the Judge agrees with the argument your lawyer presents, sometimes that may have the effect of preventing the District Attorney from using any of the evidence the officer obtained, or any statements you made to the Officer prior to being arrested.