**Covid has completely changed the length of time for cases. They are litigated much more slowly, especially if the matter is set for a jury trial.**
Listed below is a very brief outline of how most cases proceed and what defenses might be raised generally. Most cases last between 60 and 150 days.
Arraignment/Notice of Appearance (Day 1)
Once a defendant has been charged with a violation, an arraignment date is set. Typically, at an arraignment, an attorney will file a Notice of Appearance and inform the court that the client is pleading not guilty. Approximately 30 days after an arraignment, a hearing to check on the status of the case – often called a Case Management Conference or sometimes a Pre-Trial Conference – is set.
Request for Disclosure
Every person accused of a crime has a right to see evidence in the prosecution's control. Ordinarily, this would include police reports, statements, photographs, videotapes, as well as other materials. In DUI cases, each person has a right to view calibration records of breath machines, blood test results and other related materials. Getting all the information that the State has in its control is critical to analyzing any case.
Request for Interviews
Interviewing witnesses is very beneficial. An interview may be recorded and transcribed so that an accused knows how a witness will testify in advance of a hearing or trial.
First Case Management Conference (Day 30)
At a Case Management Conference, the Court generally asks the prosecutor and defense attorney what is going on with the case. Has a plea agreement been reached? Has the prosecutor given all the disclosure to the defense? Does the defense need more time to analyze the disclosure or conduct interviews? Should an Evidentiary Hearing be set? Should the matter be set for trial?
Unless the prosecutor dismisses the case for some reason at this point or a plea agreement is reached, then the case proceeds.
Second Case Management Conference (Day 60)
Essentially this hearing is similar to the previous Case Management Conference. Presumably, by this time, all the disclosure and interviews are completed.
Evidentiary Hearing (Day 90)
Often a case may be set for an evidentiary hearing at which time the defense would argue for the dismissal of the case or the suppression of certain evidence. Such a request may be made on numerous grounds. Some common examples include a motion to dismiss a case or suppress evidence for a lack of reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle or person, an illegal arrest, a disclosure violation, a Miranda violation, a right to counsel violation, a search or seizure violation, as well as other possible violations.
If the defense prevails at this hearing, the case may be dismissed entirely or some evidence may be suppressed. If the case is not dismissed, then the matter is usually set for trial.
Trial (Day 120)
In Arizona an accused is entitled to a jury trial for all felony allegations and some misdemeanor allegations (including DUIs). All other trials would be decided by a judge. The prosecution must find the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to prove a criminal case.
At trial, the defense would typically try to cast doubt that the State was able to prove each element of any allegation. Such persuasion might be accomplished by casting doubt on the accuracy or truthfulness of the State's witnesses or perhaps suggesting alternative explanations for events. The defense could also claim that an allegation was true but justified under a theory of self-defense, defense of third party, duress, necessity or some other legal defense.
Please note again that the foregoing is merely a very brief and general outline of how a case may proceed. The easiest and quickest way to obtain a reliable and detailed sense of how your case may proceed is to call for a Free Consultation.