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DUI Legal Process in Louisiana

The first court appearance in Louisiana following an arrest is the arraignment. Here the accused appears before a judge who will read the criminal charges against the accused. At this time the accused enters a plea. If a non-guilty plea is entered, the case will proceed to the next stage of the process, the pretrial conference.

At the pretrial conference, the district attorney and the defense attorney attempt to negotiate a plea. If the negotiations fail, a pretrial hearing is held with the court where the judge is informed of the status of the case and issues of scheduling and discovery. If in fact a plea agreement is reach, it will be formally entered onto the record in front of the judge. If no plea agreement is reached, the case proceeds to trial. However, before trial takes place, a pretrial motion hearing takes place. In this stage a defense attorney will attempt to resolve issues prior to trial and will present arguments and testimony. Typically the defense attorney will attempt to suppress evidence, such as test results. The judge would rule as to whether the evidence was obtained properly. If not, they will not be admissible at trial.

There are two types of trials for DUI offenders in Louisiana. In a jury trial, a judge will preside over the case and instruct the jury on how to resolve factual issues. In a bench trial, the judge will resolve issues of fact and law. If a guilty verdict is reached, the case proceeds to sentencing and in a non-guilty verdict is reached, all charges would be dropped and the case is dismissed. Following a guilty verdict in a DUI trial, the defendant will have a right to appeal and failure to request an appeal in a timely manner will amount to a waiver of that right.

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