After a person has been arraigned in a DUI case, instead of immediately sending the case for trial the defense lawyer typically sets the case down for a status hearing, which would be about four weeks from the arraignment. The purpose of a status hearing is to update a judge as to what is going on in the case.
At this point, the judge has no control over the case and cannot make any final determinations on the facts of the case. The judge will not hear any testimony and will not see any evidence from the case.
Between an arraignment and a status hearing, the defense lawyer can request evidence from the prosecutors, discuss that evidence with his or her client, and negotiate with the prosecutors for a possible resolution without taking the case to a trial. Those possible resolutions could include a negotiated plea agreement, a deferred sentencing agreement, or other negotiations.
At a status hearing, the defense and the prosecution can let the judge know the status of the case and whether the plea offer has been extended by the prosecutors. The DC DUI lawyer can let the judge know if the client would like to accept the plea offer, continue negotiating to possibly get a better offer, or reject any plea offer and request that the case be taken to a trial.
If a trial request is made, the case would be set down for a third court hearing and the judge would conduct a trial that could include hearing witnesses, seeing evidence, and making a determination of guilty or not guilty.
At the status hearing, a defendant would not be required to make any statements nor be required to call any witnesses. The defense lawyer would handle most of the talking on behalf of their client to inform the judge of the status of the case. The defense lawyer could tell the judge that there has been a plea offer extended by the prosecutor and their client would like to accept that offer after having discussed it with their client.
The defense lawyer could also let the judge know that negotiations are still going on for a possible non-trial resolution of the case. The defense lawyer can also let the judge know that they have received a plea offer, discussed that plea offer with their client, have rejected the plea offer, and would like to take the case to a trial.
For the most part, the status hearing is to let the judge know what the posture of the case is and resolve any pending legal issues that may exist, which may include discovery or evidence that should have been turned over by that point or any other legal issues that may have arisen that do not involve a finding of guilty or not guilty.
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