Stages of an OUI Case
Arraignment Phase: This is the phase where you will be formally charged and informed of the Court about what you are being charged with. This is also an opportunity for a Prosecutor to ask for bail, in order to assure you appearance at future court dates and for a Prosecutor to ask for conditions of release. Typical conditions of release may require pre-trial probation where you will be given random alcohol and drugs screens (these are usually associated with multiple OUI offenses). At your arraignment, a Pre-Trial Hearing Date will usually be selected.
Pre-Trial Hearing: This is the phase where your attorney will have an opportunity to conference the case with the Prosecutor, who is representing the Commonwealth. Oftentimes, an offer by the Prosecutor will be made to dispose of your case. The Pre-Trial Phase is also a time for your attorney to file Discovery Motions on your behalf and obtain Discovery that is relevant to your case.
In some cases, this may be as simple as providing the Defense with a Booking Photograph. In other cases, Discovery requests can be much more complicated when they involve Breath Test Machine Records or Officer Training Manuals. If the Discovery is complied with, a Trial Date or Motion Date may be selected.
Motion Hearing: This is the phase where you will be asking the Court to Suppress Evidence or Dismiss your case. There are a variety of difference reasons why you might be asking the Court to Suppress Evidence in your OUI case. A common reason is because the Officer violated your Constitutional Rights by Stopping your Vehicle Illegally. Another reason is because the Breath Test Procedure was performed incorrectly or because the machine is unreliable. Also, the Officer may have searched your car illegally and found evidence that can support an OUI Charge, like an open container of alcohol. There are numerous Motions that could be filed in your case and these need to be explored on a case by case basis. But the bottom-line are these Motions to Dismiss and Suppress are filed in order to increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case.
Trial: This is the phase of litigation that you will have the opportunity to have a Judge of Jury hear the facts of your case. A trial in front of a Judge is called a Bench Trial and a Trial in front of a Jury is called a Jury Trial. At a Bench Trial the Judge makes decisions regarding the law and the facts; whereas at a Jury Trial a Judge only makes decisions regarding the law. At this phase, the Prosecutor will have a chance to present his or her case and we will have the chance to put on our defense. At a trial, there are certain things that a Jury will never hear. For example, a Jury will never hear that you refused to take Field Sobriety Tests, that you refused to take the Breathalyzer or that you were convicted of OUI charges in the past. At a Trial, your attorney will have the opportunity to question (cross examine) the arresting officer, an opportunity that was never afforded to you before the Officer made the decision to arrest you. You will also get a chance to put on witnesses that can testify to what happened before you were arrested and the events that possibly happened during your arrest.
Please remember, if we were to believe every single word that was in a police report or that came out of a police officer’s mouth, there would be no need for a Trial, however, we know this is usually not the case. We can also put on our own expert witness who can testify to the inaccuracies of the Breath Test Machine.
If you need help deciding about what the next step in your OUI case should be, contact Massachusetts OUI Attorney Paul R. Moraski today at (978) 744 – 1200.