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DUI Legal Process in Washington

There are several parts of a driving under the influence trial that are important to understand.

First is the arraignment. Arraignment is the initial appearance in front of a judge or magistrate who will read the formal charges, and the defendant will enter either a plea of guilty or not guilty. After the arraignment the defense attorney may find it necessary to challenge some of the evidence or procedure that the prosecution is using and will move for a preliminary hearing on the evidence.

At a pre-trial hearing, the prosecutor and defense attorney will argue whether the evidence to be presented is valid, and admissible at trial. If it is not, the evidence will be thrown out, and the prosecution may have to drop the case at that point. If the evidence is admissible then the two sides will prepare to continue on to trial.

At trial the prosecution will put their evidence against the defendant before a trier of fact. Although the trier of fact is likely to be a jury, the defendant can decide instead to have it heard before the judge alone. After the prosecution has put on all their evidence of why the defendant should be found guilty, the defendant has the right to put on evidence of why they should be found innocent. After both sides have had the opportunity to put on evidence, the trier of fact will make their decision. If the trier of fact finds the defendant guilty, then the defendant still has the right to appeal.

At appeal the attorney for the defendant will try and argue that there was a mistake at trial made by the judge or the jury in some way or another. The prosecutor will likely argue on why the earlier ruling was correct, and the appeals judge will decide. If the appeals judge finds in favor of the defendant the appeals judge may rule for a new trial, or decide that the defendant should be let go. If the appeals judge finds for the prosecution than the guilty verdict stands.

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