If you find yourself charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Yuma County, you may have several questions. What are the possible penalties I am facing? What is the process for a DUI court proceeding? Which court will hear my case? How am I able to obtain legal counsel through an attorney?
We will give an overview of the court system, legal process, and penalties associated with a DUI charge, why you need a DUI defense attorney to assist with your case, and how our firm can help.
If you are arrested for a DUI while driving in Yuma County, then the court that might hear your case is the Superior Court in Yuma County (unless the offense involved two or more counties, in which case a criminal proceeding may be held in any of the concerned counties). The superior court is Arizona’s general district court, and there is one superior court for each of the states’ fifteen counties.
The Yuma County Superior Court has six divisions and six total judges, with one judge presiding over each of the court’s divisions. The court has jurisdiction over criminal cases amounting to a felony and civil cases where the value of property in question is over $1,000. The courthouse for the Yuma County Superior Court is located in downtown Yuma at 250 West 2nd Street.
In the state of Arizona, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limits for drivers of regular vehicles is 0.08 or higher, and for drivers of commercial vehicles is 0.04 or higher. If a driver’s BAC is 0.15 or higher, the driver can be arrested for Driving Under the Extreme Influence, which carries more severe penalties.
DUI criminal offenses are separated into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. A felony is the more serious of the two categories of offenses. Felonies range from the most serious (Class 1) to the lowest classification (Class 6) offenses.There are two classes of DUI felonies which are prosecuted in Yuma County Superior Court, a Class 4 DUI Felony and a Class 6 DUI Felony.
A Class 4 DUI Felony arrest results from a driver committing one of the following offenses:
The potential penalties for a Class 4 DUI Felony conviction include the driver paying well over $4,000 in fines and serving at least four months of prison (depending on the circumstances of the DUI arrest.)
A Class 6 Felony arrest results from a driver being convicted of a DUI while a child under the age of 15 is present in the vehicle. Penalties for a Class 6 DUI Felony include the driver paying over $4,000 in fees and serving at least 10 days in jail (depending on the circumstances of the DUI arrest.)
If the DUI also resulted in a vehicular accident, the driver may also be charged with:
The first stage of a DUI legal proceeding after an arrest is the Initial Appearance (IA), which is required to occur within 24 hours of an individual being arrested if they are in custody. During the IA, an individual will be advised by a judge of their rights and the charges against them. If the charged individual cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender as counsel for the individual.
Also during the IA, a judge will set bond. Bond is an amount of cash or property that must be deposited with the court before an individual can be released. Generally, if the individual is unable to pay the bond amount, they must wait in jail until their court date.
The next stage is a status conference, also called a Case Management Conference (CMC). During the CMC, a judge will ask both the prosecution and defense attorneys about where the case is in terms of the investigation and discovery process. The judge may then allow the CMC to be continued in order to allow either side to continue investigation and discovery.
After the CMC is the Preliminary Hearing Stage. At the Preliminary Hearing, a judge determines whether a crime has in fact been committed based on a “probable cause” determination, and whether the individual should be held for trial.
During the Preliminary Hearing, a judge may also “scratch” or “vacate” the case. This means that formal charges were not filed or that the prosecutor has chosen to take the case to a grand jury. However, charges may be re-filed if they were not initially filed. In Yuma County, the Preliminary Hearing is generally “scratched” and replaced by a Grand Jury proceeding.
When a case moves to a Grand Jury instead of a Preliminary Hearing, the prosecutor will present evidence to a group of sixteen Yuma County citizens in order to obtain an indictment against the accused individual. In order for the Grand Jury to indict the accused individual and the case to move to trial, nine of the sixteen Grand Jurors must find that there was “probable cause” to believe that the accused individual committed the crime.
After a Grand Jury returns an indictment, the accused individual will be arraigned. Arraignment must take place either 10 days after an indictment if the accused is in custody or 30 days after an indictment if the accused is not in custody. During the arraignment proceeding, the accused will enter a plea of either guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
The Arizona Constitution guarantees a jury trial in criminal prosecutions, but only for serious crimes—not petty crimes. Depending on the severity of the potential prison penalty the case may move to a jury trial consisting of eight jurors. All jurors must agree in order to render a guilty verdict. After a guilty verdict is returned by the jury, the judge will then impose the sentence on the defendant.
If you or someone you know have been arrested for a DUI offense in Yuma County, obtaining legal representation as soon as possible is very important. A Yuma County or Tempe DUI Defense Attorney may be able to assist with the following:
To get connected to Rosenstein Law Groups DUI Law Specialists, please contact us by filling out a contact form here or call (480) 248-7666 for your free consultation.