When someone is arrested and arraigned on a DUI charge, the next step in the legal process is the preliminary hearing. During a DUI preliminary hearing, a judge determines if there is enough evidence to proceed to a trial. If the defendant’s DUI attorney is able to suppress the evidence against them, the judge may find that there is no need to proceed to trial. However, if there is sufficient evidence available to present to a jury in a trial, the judge can determine that the case may proceed to the trial phase.
In most cases, a preliminary hearing is only required for a felony charge. In Illinois, misdemeanor charges require a county trial. For questions about a specific case, consult with an attorney that specializes in the defense of DUI cases.
How the Chicago DUI Preliminary Hearing Works
During a Chicago DUI preliminary hearing, the judge hears and assesses the prosecution’s evidence against the accused. The evidence may include the field sobriety test results and chemical test results indicating that the individual’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level was higher than the legal limit. The preliminary hearing is similar in many ways to the actual trial. The prosecution will present the evidence that they have. However, in some cases, evidence may be challenged by an attorney, and if successful, the evidence will be excluded from use in trial. For example, if an attorney is able to present an argument that test results were not administered in the correct manner by medical personnel, this piece of evidence may be deemed inadmissible in court.
Once the judge has heard the evidence against the defendant and any arguments that a DUI attorney may make with regards to the evidence or the specific situation, the judge will determine if the case will proceed to trial. The judge will make the decision based on whether there is probable cause for the case to move forward to trial with the permissible evidence presented. If the judge determines that the allowable evidence is not sufficient, the case will not proceed to the trial phase.
An excellent DUI attorney can look for opportunities to suppress evidence that may be illegally or improperly obtained. If the DUI attorney is able to present the argument for suppressing improper evidence during the preliminary hearing, the chances are good that the case will be dismissed and no trial will be required.
In some cases, a plea bargain may be negotiated between a defense attorney and the prosecution. A strong DUI defense attorney may be a great investment in some cases because they can navigate a case using their knowledge of the laws of Illinois, their knowledge of rules of evidence and relationships that they may have with the prosecution.