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What to Expect During the First Day of a DUI Trial in DC

When someone is facing DUI charges in the District of Columbia, they will need to attain a seasoned attorney. They can help the person prepare for the day of a DC DUI trial and ensure that the person knows what to expect throughout the day.

Where Cases are Held

In DC, all DUI cases are held in the District of Columbia Superior Court with few exceptions. DC is not a state, county, or city so there is no county court or state court. The Superior Court of the District of Columbia hears the majority of cases.

Most DUI charges in DC are misdemeanors. A DUI allegedly committed on federal property could be prosecuted in the District of Columbia District Court which is a federal court. However, that does not usually happen unless the case involves more serious charges that are prosecuted federally. It is almost a guarantee that if an individual is arrested and cited for a driving under the influence, their case is heard in the District of Columbia Superior Court.

Preparing for the Trial Date

DUI cases are set for trial on a specific date. On the day of the trial, in any of the courtrooms in the District of Columbia Superior Court, there is at least one case set for trial in a misdemeanor courtroom and in that courtroom. The court wants to know what is happening with the case.

For example, there may be a plea agreement or some other disposition like a diversion. There may be problems that must be resolved. The case might be dismissed because the government failed to preserve evidence or disclose evidence to the defense, or the government needs a suspension’s continuance.

When the court calls the case that starts the trial, the first thing the government must do is announce whether they are ready to proceed to trial. They might not be ready to proceed to trial if they discovered they did not properly prepare all of the evidence in the case. The assumption is that they are not prepared to proceed and the case is dismissed for want of prosecution.

If any of the government’s essential witnesses are not present or did not check in to say they will be present shortly, the government cannot announce that they are ready to go to trial. The defense could raise a motion to dismiss for want of prosecution. That should be granted unless the prosecutor has a good reason and explains it to the court’s satisfaction. The case might be set for a new trial date.

Beginning the Court Process

Assuming that the prosecutor is ready to proceed with the trial, the court asks how many witnesses they have and/or how long they expect the case to last. The court asks if there are any issues that need to be discussed or resolved prior to starting the trial. They ask if the defense is ready; whether any witnesses might be called; and whether there are any issues to be resolved before the trial can resume. If both sides are ready to go, there is not going to be a plea, there is not going to be some other disposition, there is not going to be a request for a continuance, there are no issues that need an immediate resolution that could stop a case from going to trial that day. The judge alerts the parties as to how long they expect the case to go for.

The trial could be held shortly thereafter in the necessary courtroom. If the court is unable to handle the trial that day, the court puts it on a certification list to be picked up by the next available judge in a courtroom. More often than not, the case is handled that day by that courtroom or by the first available courtroom that can pick it up.

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