In the previous blog, a brief overview was provided regarding the difference between an arrest, charge and conviction. Further, an example was given. What follows is the analysis.
At the point where David was stopped and administered a field sobriety test, he has only been arrested. The officer found that there was probable cause to believe that David was intoxicated and that he was operating a vehicle. Proving that David was driving a vehicle will be easy with the facts of this case because the officer himself observed David driving, and David was operating the vehicle when he was asked to pull over. Determining whether the driver is intoxicated is a little bit trickier, but in this fact pattern may be stronger for the officer.
The officer’s observations support his belief that David is intoxicated. This includes that he is slurring, and the odor of alcohol as well as his nervous, agitated behavior. Furthermore, David has admitted to having had some drinks. This admission will be strong evidence, as well as the field sobriety test reading of .1.
David was taken into custody and released the next day with a citation to appear in Court in three weeks. This will be his arraignment date. Let’s say that David appears on that date and they inform him that nothing has been filed yet. Does this mean he is free of all charges? No, it doesn’t. Oftentimes, due to the backlog of cases, and budget cuts, it takes the court system some time to review the facts of each arrest and determine if the driver should be charged. The court will simply give David a new date to appear, or send him home and wait for something in the mail.
David may receive something that states he is clear of all charges and that it will be dismissed. Or he may receive a letter informing him of a new date as to when he has to appear. This means that David has been charged. It means that the Prosecutor’s office, whether District Attorney or City Attorney, that there is reason to believe there is enough evidence to find David guilty of a DUI.
David will then appear at an arraignment, which is his first court date. If David opts to plead guilty on that day, then he will be convicted of a DUI. If he chooses to continue the hearing, or to retain counsel, or to fight his case, or many other options, the case will continue. Unless David enters a guilty plea, it will be the Prosecutor’s job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that David is guilty of a DUI. Only after the Prosecutor proves that, he will be convicted.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer as soon as possible so that they can explain the criminal system to you.