Initiating Criminal Proceedings in Montgomery County, PA
Criminal proceedings in Montgomery County, PA, including those for DUI, generally begin with the filing of a written complaint with the appropriate Montgomery County court. A Pennsylvania criminal proceeding may also begin with an arrest without a warrant under certain circumstances.
When a warrantless arrest is effected, a complaint must be filed against the defendant and a preliminary hearing must be held before the proper issuing authority (usually a Montgomery County, PA District Justice). When the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, a Montgomery County, PA officer will most likely bring the arrestee before a District Justice for a preliminary arraignment. The arresting officer can release the defendant without having taken the defendant before the District Justice for preliminary arraignment when the most serious offense charged is a second-degree misdemeanor or a first-degree misdemeanor in cases arising under the Pennsylvania DUI Law where the defendant does not pose a risk to him/herself or others and the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant will appear for criminal proceedings.
DUI Complaint in Montgomery County, PA
Criminal proceedings in Pennsylvania may begin with a warrant or a warrantless arrest, which is authorized for DUI. Where a warrantless arrest occurs, a complaint must be filed against the defendant and a preliminary hearing held before “the proper issuing authority without unnecessary delay.” Pa.R.Crim.P. 519(A)(1). Since most DUI and DUI-related offenses in Montgomery County, PA result in warrantless arrests and release from custody without a preliminary arraignment, a complaint must be filed with the appropriate issuing authority (usually a district justice) after the arrest. Under these circumstances, Pa.R.Crim.P. 519(B)(2) requires that the complaint be filed “within 5 days of the defendant’s release,” to be followed by the issuance of a summons. As soon as you receive a copy of the criminal complaint, you should forward it to your DUI lawyer along with any other paperwork related to your case that you have in your possession.
Preliminary Hearing for DUI in Montgomery County, PA
The summons is a directive to appear at a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is not a trial, but it serves to protect an individual’s right against an unlawful arrest and detention. A preliminary hearing will be heard in the appropriate Montgomery County, PA Magisterial District Court.
In Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth must prove a prima facie case of guilt at the preliminary hearing or the defendant will be discharged. The Commonwealth bears the burden of establishing at least a prima facie case that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably the one who committed it. If the Commonwealth successfully meets its burden, the case will proceed to trial and bail will be set.
Following your preliminary hearing, an arraignment will be scheduled. At an arraignment in Montgomery County, PA, you will be informed of your right to a lawyer, the nature of the charges set forth against you, your right to file motions, and the time limits for filing motions. Arraignments are governed by the Montgomery County, PA Local Rules, and you may waive the arraignment if defense counsel concurs.
Following arraignment, the discovery process begins. The Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure govern the discovery process that includes informal discovery for a Montgomery County, PA DUI trial. The Commonwealth has a duty to disclose evidence including test results, witnesses, police reports, notes, videotapes, statements made by you, expert reports, and PennDOT records. The Commonwealth shall also provide a bill of particulars upon request.
Pre-Trial Procedures in Montgomery County, PA
DUI lawyers in Montgomery County PAPre-trial motions shall also be considered, such as motions for continuance, suppression of evidence, change of venue, severance of offenses, and/or severance of defendants. Pre-trial hearings are held in Montgomery County, PA to resolve pre-trial motions. Pre-trial hearings for DUI in Montgomery County, PA are typically held to determine the admissibility of evidence, the legality of the traffic stop and arrest, suppression of refusal evidence, and other matters.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, commonly known as ARD, is a pre-trial intervention program that is provided for by the PA Rules of Criminal Procedure and is designed to divert first-time DUI offenders from the criminal justice system. The Montgomery County, PA ARD program suspends the formal criminal prosecution before trial on the condition that the offender comply with certain conditions imposed by the court. In addition to the provisions of the Rules of Criminal Procedure that govern the Montgomery County ARD program, offenders charged with DUI face additional eligibility rules and conditions for entry and successful completion of the ARD program. The qualifications and conditions for entry and completion of the program should be discussed with an experienced Montgomery County, PA DUI lawyer.
An offender may not be moved for admission into an ARD program after conviction in lieu of sentencing. Once an offender has elected to proceed to trial and is found guilty, admission into an ARD program is no longer an option. Learn more about the ARD program in Montgomery County, PA.
Trial for DUI in the Montgomery County, PA Court of Common Pleas
A DUI matter will then proceed to trial for a determination of your guilt or innocence in the Montgomery County, PA Court of Common Pleas. At trial, evidence is presented, including scientific tests, blood tests and other considerations.
Montgomery County, PA DUI Lawyers
The Martin Law Firm is a skilled and experienced Montgomery County, PA DUI defense law firm. Our knowledgeable Montgomery County, PA DUI lawyers handle all procedural aspects of DUI charges in southeastern Pennsylvania outlined above. If you have been arrested for DUI in Montgomery County, PA, the best thing that you can do for your case is to retain an experienced DUI lawyer to vigorously represent your interests and explore any defenses or alternative options that may be available to you. Learn how our qualified Montgomery County, PA DUI lawyers can help you: contact an experienced Montgomery County, PA DUI lawyer at the Martin Law Firm at 215-646-3980 today for a free DUI case evaluation.