When a person is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence in Southern California, they will be required to appear before the Criminal judge on a given date to plead their case. If a Los Angeles DUI attorney has been hired, the attorney may appear on behalf of the client as long as it is a misdemeanor DUI.
The first court appearance is called an Arraignment. During the arraignment, the Judge will ask the person being charged if they wish to enter a plea regarding the allegation of driving under the influence. There are three potential pleas that may be entered; guilty, not guilty and no contest.
Anytime a person chooses to enter a plea of guilty or no contest a DUI Advisement of Rights, Waiver and Plea form will be read to them and ultimately signed. On the form there is a section of Constitutional Rights which you must initial as having understood and waiving any of the rights listed.
The first right is the Right to a Jury Trial. The form informs the signer that they are entitled to a fair and speedy trial in which they are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of 12 peers. However, when a person pleads guilty or no contest, they are forfeiting this right.
The second right is a Right to Confront a Witness. This gives the person, or a representing attorney, the right to confront as well as cross examine a witness that is testifying as to the accounts from the arrest.s
Thirdly, they will be giving up a Right against Self Incrimination. Each person that is arrested on suspsicion of commiiting a crime has the right to remain silent. They have the right to not incriminate themselves.
For example, let’s assume that David has been arrested on the suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer asks David if he has been drinking that evening. David has a right to remain silent. He does not have to answer the question. If he were to say that he had drank a couple cocktails, the statements will be used against him court when he is being tried for a DUI case. Instead, David can exercise his right to remain silent and not make incriminating statements.
However, when a person pleads guilty or no contest, they are waiving the Right against Self Incrimination because they are conceding to the fact that they are guilty or do not wish to argue against the charges.
The last right listed on the DUI Advisement of Rights, Waivers and Plea form is the Right to Produce Evidence. The person charged has the right to bring in any witnesses that they wish to testify, as well as any evidence they feel is favorable to their case. However, when pleading guilty or no contest, they are giving up this Constitutional right.
The form will ask that the person understand what the right entails, and that they are giving up this right. All of the form must be read and initialed indicating acceptance of its terms.
If a person feels that they were forced to sign the form, or that they signed the form without understand what rights they were giving up, there may be a weakness in Prosecution’s case. Consult an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer to understand your rights, and if they have been violated.