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DUI Legal Process in Nevada

If you are arrested for a DUI in Nevada, two separate trials will take place: a criminal case filed by the state and a civil case filed by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. The first stage of any DUI case is the arrest. A DUI offender will be arrested and taken into custody and asked to submit to chemical testing to establish the offenders BAC. Miranda and consent rights will be read and the suspect will be booked and fingerprinted, searched and placed in a holding cell. If an offender is eligible for release she may be released by promising to appear in court. A bond may also need to be posted. If an offender is not eligible for release then she will remain in custody until the case can be resolved.

DUI Arraignments: The first court appearance following an arrest in Nevada is referred to as an arraignment. The offender will appear before the judge, who will read the official charges against him/her and be asked to enter a plea. If the offender pleads guilty, then the judge will impose a sentence. If instead the offender pleads not guilty, the case will be set for trial.

Pretrial hearing: preliminary hearings are set in order to update the judge on the status of the DUI case. At this time, the offender’s attorney will have an opportunity to negotiate with the prosecution and attempt to come to a plea bargain. Issues such as discovery and scheduling can be settled at this time. If negotiations are successful, sentencing will be set. If a plea agreement is not reached then the case will proceed to trial.

Pretrial motions: If certain issues need to be resolved prior to trial, it can be done so by filing motions with the court. A hearing on these motions will then be held. At this hearing, the offenders attorney may present evidence and cross-examine police officers involved in the case. Expert witness testimony may also be introduced. The most prominent motion filed is one to suppress evidence, such as chemical test results. Other motions to suppress evidence such as keeping physical evidence of open alcohol containers found in the vehicle, or any incriminating statements made during an arrest might also be made. If motions to suppress evidence are granted then that evidence cannot be used in trial against the offender.

Trial: If a DUI case goes to trial in Nevada there are two types: a jury trial and a bench trial. In a jury trial the judge will determine issues of law, while issues of fact are left to the jury to decide. In a bench trial, there is no jury and so the judge takes on both tasks of deciding issues of law and fact. Which type of trial is used depends on the nature of the charges, the court the case was filed as well as the preference of the parties. If a not guilty verdict is found, the case will be dismissed and the charges dropped. If instead the offender is found to be guilty, the judge will impose sentencing.

Appeal: Nevada DUI convictions may be appealed so long as such an appeal is made in a timely manner.

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