What is the court process for DUI in Tennessee?
If you've been recently arrested for drunk driving, then you may be wondering what to expect next. Make sure to retain legal representation from proven DUI Attorney Brian Lee Nash. Our Franklin criminal attorneys can walk you through the different steps of the legal process and fight for your rights.
Step One: Arrest
Once a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may arrest you. He or she may conduct a field sobriety test or administer a chemical test to analyze your level of impairment. Sometimes, suspects are convicted upon an officer's opinion alone, as Tennessee law has maintained that this is sufficient
Step Two: Release from Custody
After you are processed at a police station, the court may decide if you are to be released on your own recognizance or a bail will be posted. If you have committed a simple misdemeanor and are a first-time offender, it is very likely that you will be released and expected to return for your hearing. A bail may be posted for your release or you may be held until your initial hearing if any of the following apply to you:
- You have prior DUI convictions
- You have a history of failing to appear
- Your DUI was associated with reckless behavior (including excessive speeding or driving with a minor)
- Your chemical test resulted in an extremely high blood alcohol content
- You caused an accident with injury or death
Step Three: Initial Hearing/Arraignment
At your initial court hearing, you will be informed of all the charges against you. This hearing, known as arraignment, will usually be scheduled 2-6 weeks after the date of your arrest. During this hearing, the court will ask that you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Step Four: General Sessions Court
If you've been charged with a misdemeanor and your case was not settled during arraignment, then your case will proceed to the General Sessions Court. You will again have an opportunity to settle the case through one of three ways.
- Plea agreement
- Preliminary hearing
- Trial without a jury
Those who have been charged with a felony must have their case heard by a jury. If your case has not been settled at this stage, then it will proceed to trial by jury.
Step 5: Grand Jury
The Grand Jury, composed of 13 people, will determine if probable cause exists. The prosecution will provide their evidence and the jury will decide if the trial should be heard in a criminal court. Once their decision is made, the members of the jury will present and indictment, which is a formal charge stating each element of the crime.
Step 6: Criminal Court
At a criminal trial, you and your lawyer will have an opportunity to present your defense. The prosecution will bring their evidence for your guilt, and your attorney will attempt to refute their claims. The jury will then deliberate and decide if the state has met the burden of proof for your guilt. They will inform the judge of your verdict. If you are found guilty, then the judge will sentence you for penalties that he deems appropriate to your charges.
Contact Attorney Brian Lee Nash for Assistance
If you do not get the outcome that you desire, a Franklin DUI lawyer from our firm can appeal your case. Those who have been recently arrested for DUI should immediately get in touch with Attorney Brian Lee Nash so that we can begin investigating your situation and building your defense. Call now to get started!