Someone who has been arrested for DUI in Tennessee can anticipate having to go through several steps while their criminal case is pending. Following arrest, the individual will first have a bond hearing with a magistrate or judicial commissioner while still in jail. In most cases, the person will not be able to have an attorney present. The magistrate will set a bail bond and other conditions required for the person to be released pending trial. If they cannot afford the bail bond, they will have to stay in jail until the case is resolved.
The person will then be scheduled for a court date. In many cases, there will be a plea agreement that day and the case will be resolved. Otherwise, the individual has a right to a preliminary hearing. The State must establish probable cause the defendant has committed a crime, and the defense attorney can cross examine the arresting officer to establish weaknesses in the case.
Cross-examination of the arresting officer during a DUI hearing is an important part of the case. The officer is under oath and his or her statements are recorded, so the officer will be bound by those statements for the rest of the case. The defense attorney may be able to establish there were many signs the person was NOT intoxicated, and potentially that the officer may not have followed proper procedure.
If the judge does not find probable cause, the case is dismissed. Otherwise, the judge will send the case to the Grand Jury, which typically will issue an indictment several weeks later. Once the indictment is issued, the case is sent to Criminal Court or Circuit Court for further proceedings. The defense lawyer can then try again to negotiate a resolution, file a motion to suppress evidence, or set the case for trial.
The above information should make it clear that a DUI case can have several steps and result in many different outcomes. A lot will hinge on the severity of the charge, whether the defendant already has a criminal record (especially prior DUIs), and whether the defendant is able to post bail and return home pending future court proceedings.
One thing is for sure, though, and that is a defendant who being represented by an experienced criminal lawyer will have a far better chance of successfully navigating the DUI hearing process. Call Raybin & Weissman, P.C. at 615-256-6666 or fill out this form if you are facing a DUI charge and would like a lawyer on our team help you explore your legal rights and options.