Getting arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania can be a terrifying experience. The laws are extremely stiff, and penalties are really hard. However, knowing the DUI court process in Pennsylvania can lessen the fear that you may be feeling considering your experience.
The arrest in Pennsylvania
There has to be “probable cause” in order to arrest you. So there should be reasonable belief that you committed the crime, in this case, it is DUI. It is not incumbent for an arresting officer to have an arrest warrant.
You have two constitutional rights, when you are arrested. You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to an attorney.
Once you are in custody, the police officer will read you your Miranda rights. These rights entail the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. In the case that you cannot afford an attorney, the court appoints you one.
The booking in Pennsylvania
The next step in DUI court processing is the police taking you down to the police station for the booking process. You will be fingerprinted, then you will be asked some questions like your name and birth date. Also, you will be searched and photographed. Personal belongings found on you will be catalogued and stored for you.
The arraignment in Pennsylvania
Criminal charges will be filed, and then you will make a court appearance called an “arraignment.” If you have to go to jail, this would happen within 72 hours of being arrested.
It is during your arraignment, that you are asked to enter your “plea.” You have the choice of four different pleas:
- Guilty plea: This is admitting to the crime and that you committed the crime, in this case, it is admitting to DUI. There is no trial with this plea.
- Not guilty plea: This is saying that you did not commit the crime. After your plea is stated, a pre-trial or trial date is set.
- No contest plea: This means that you are not admitting guilt, but you don’t dispute charges against you. This plea can protect you from civil suits. There is no trial with this plea.
- “Mute” plea: This is allowed in some jurisdictions. You can be mute instead of entering a plea. The court enters a plea of not guilty. You avoid admitting to the correctness of the case against you.
Bond/Bail in Pennsylvania
Bail is property or money put forth as security so that you will show up for your court proceedings. It may be paid as a pledge of property, as cash, or as a bail bond.
Speedy Trial in Pennsylvania
According to the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to a speedy trial. You have the right to waive this, if you want more time to prepare your defense.
Appeals in Pennsylvania
If you are convicted, you have the right to appeal your case.
Being arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania can be a scary, overwhelming experience, but knowing what to expect makes it easier.