When you are arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Rhode Island, you will likely have to be in a Rhode Island court numerous times in the coming months. Additionally, Rhode Island has four district courts, with one in Providence, Warwick (Kent County), South Kingstown (Washington County), and Newport. Rhode Island also has a court dedicated strictly to traffic violations and infractions, that court is called the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, and it is in Cranston. Therefore, if you have been charged with a DUI in Rhode Island, you will have to appear in court, depending on where you got arrested. Once you have decided which court you must appear in, there are three main steps the case might have to go through before there is a resolution in your case. You do not have to go through these steps alone. If you are charged with a DUI in Rhode Island, you can have an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney help you through the process.
The first step is the arraignment. Anyone charged with any crime will be given a date where they must appear in court. The same goes for a DUI charge because it is a crime. The arraignment is the court appearance where the police may potentially read the police report. The court will formally inform you of your criminal charges. Additionally, the court will determine your bail conditions. They can release you on personal recognizance (essentially your word and promise to follow all federal and state laws and come back to court) set a cash bail or impose conditions on your being released on bail. Usually, bail is not required for a first or second offense DUI and personal recognizance is usually the bail that is set. However, if you have a criminal history and fail to show up in court (showing you are someone who may not follow their bail conditions) the court may issue a cash bail with conditions.
The next step is the pre-trial conference, which is usually scheduled 2-3 weeks after your arraignment date. These 2-3 weeks in between the arraignment and the pre-trial conference are the starts of the discovery period. This discovery period allows us to gather all materials related to your case that the police have, hire an investigator, if necessary, formulate a strategy and case theory, and finally keep you—the client—informed. At the Law Office of David Ellison, we pride ourselves on being transparent and accessible to our clients. So during this discovery period, you will receive all of your case materials as well. Furthermore, the pre-trial conference is essentially a way for both the defense attorney and the prosecutor to ensure they have all the case materials. Additionally, this is where both attorneys have the chance to either obtain any additional information needed or try to agree to a possible resolution for the case. That possible resolution could be a plea in the case. Lastly, there is not just one pre-trial conference; there can be numerous.
The last step would be a trial. Everybody has a constitutional right to go to trial when criminal charges are brought against them. A DUI trial is usually relatively short and only lasts about a day or two. The trial can be a bench trial which is in front a judge and no jury, where the judge decides whether you are guilty or not. Or it can be a jury trial, where the jury decides whether or not you are guilty and a judge only presides over legal matters. Additionally, in both trials the prosecution must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Which kind of trial you should choose if you get to this step all depends on the facts of your case and the evidence against you.
If you have been charged with a DUI and have questions about the DUI court process in Rhode Island, contact Rhode Island DUI Attorney David Ellison so that David can dive into your case materials and help create the best strategy for you and your situation.