Part of any meaningful defense begins with a thorough and independent investigation of your case. Your attorney will request and review all ?discovery? including all information contained in the State's files, all police officer notes and reports, 911 tapes, recorded police dispatch transmissions, witness statements, video and audio taped evidence, training and certification logs of involved police officers, all information and evidence regarding the administration of the blood or breath testing devices, records for a period before and after your tests which demonstrate the testing device was working properly and criminalist laboratory and analysis notes.
Your attorney will conduct interviews with material police and civilian witnesses. If the State analyzed your blood, your attorney may engage an independent laboratory to re–test your blood to verify the accuracy of the results. After gathering all of the facts, your attorney will apply those facts to the applicable case law to determine if the State's investigation complied with the State and Federal Constitutions and the most up to date case law. If necessary, your attorney will discuss engaging experts in other fields to fully examine all possible defenses in your matter.
In most cases, there are a series of procedural hearings that take place while your matter is pending. These hearings include:
Arraignment: a formal reading of the ?charges? against you. Your Attorney files a Notice of Appearance and a plea of ?NOT GUILTY ? is entered on your behalf.
Pre–Trial Conferences: a series of Court conferences held with your Attorney, the Judge and the Prosecutor to discuss outstanding issues, make sure the discovery (turning over of evidence) process is on-going, and to schedule future Court dates. Initial plea negotiations may also begin. As more facts are uncovered by your Attorney, additional pre-trial conferences may be requested or pre-trial motions may be filed.
Evidentiary Hearings: a hearing where the Judge rules on written legal arguments filed by your Attorney, if appropriate. Usually, the hearing consists of testimony from witnesses and oral arguments from your Attorney and the State's attorney.
Bench Trial or Jury Trial: a proceeding that requires the Prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, to a trier of fact. In some cases, the trier of fact is the Judge (or the Bench) and in other cases, a jury decides the case.
Change of Plea proceeding: if your case is being resolved with a mutually agreeable settlement, the agreement is entered before a Judge who will decide if the resolution is in the interest of justice.
If your case involves driving or a motor vehicle, MVD my take action against your license, including suspension, revocation and cancellation of your driving privileges. An experienced attorney can help protect your driver's license. Most notices from the MVD are time sensitive and require an appropriate response within a very limited period of time. If you receive any type of notification from MVD, call our office IMMEDIATELY. Failure to act quickly may impact your case.
The government has up to one year to file misdemeanor charges and up to seven years to file felony charges (and even longer on certain cases). Once filed, a misdemeanor case can take two to six months to resolve and a felony case can take much longer. Of course, every case is different and we understand how difficult the ?waiting game? can be, however, it is important that your case is thoroughly investigated and analyzed so that you can make the best decisions possible with the most information possible.