There are several ways you can be found guilty of a Los Angeles DUI. However, before any guilty verdicts are decided, there must first be an arrest, and a charge. After you have been charged and arrested, you will be given an arraignment date. You must appear in court on this day. This is mandatory, there is no excuse for you not to appear, and failure to do so could result in a bench warrant. The only way you do not have to appear is if you are represented by a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer. If your lawyer meets the guidelines, then they can appear on your behalf.
At the arraignment you will be read the charges against you, the potential consequences and you will be asked to enter a plea. You will also be given a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer with usually a lesser sentence if you plead guilty. This is without a trial, without being heard, or without presenting any evidence. This is not always a good idea, and should warrant careful consideration and consulting with a legal professional.
You may enter a plea at this hearing, or ask for a continuance. Continuance may be given by the Judge for up to thirty days to hire an attorney, or to request discovery. Regardless, there are two major ways a plea of guilty may be entered.
First, as stated, you can enter a plea yourself of guilty. If it is part of a plea bargain, the prosecutor will have you review your rights, check that you are waiving your rights to go to trial, and your case will be concluded. When you choose this option, your case concludes very quickly, but you may be prematurely agreeing to something that may be reduced or dismissed. It is worthwhile to discuss the facts and the evidence against you with a Los Angeles attorney in the event it may be better for you to proceed to trial.
Second, you can be found guilty by a Jury or a Judge. In this option you have the right to present you case, you will go to trial, present evidence, take testimony, and make your arguments before a Judge. If after an entire trial, the Jury or the Judge find you guilty, then you will be sentenced accordingly. In a plea bargain you will know the sentence as you will be accepting it as part of your “deal”.
If you are being charged with a DUI, and are considering entering a guilty plea, it is a good idea to consult with a professional first. There may be facts that would warrant proceeding to trial, and there may be facts that would support you accepting a plea. If you do not have legal experience or background, you may be prematurely making a decision that could harm you and your career, or education in the future.