Prosecution of College Park DUI Charges
College Park DUI cases are always heard first in Prince George’s County District Court. The district court for that area happens to be in Hyattsville on Rhode Island Avenue. Typically, in district court, there is a bench trial. In circuit court, the trial can be in front of a jury but the first hearing is just in front of a judge. A person can elect to only have a bench trial. A College Park DUI lawyer can help advise a person in which decisions to make. If they are going to take a case in district court, it will always be in front of a judge only. There are no juries in the district court.
What Prosecutors Need to Prove
On average, a College Park DUI case takes about three to six months depending on how far the person uses the judicial system. For the district court, there is probably about eight to twelve weeks before the person gets to court. If the person moves their case from the district court to the circuit court through a jury trial prayer, that can add another three months on top of that time frame.
For a College Park DUI, the burden of proof is on the state. They must prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was probable cause for the officer to stop a person’s vehicle to make contact with them; that the contact the officer made was justifiable and indicative of the possibility of alcohol; that the officer’s further investigations were reliable and lawful; and that they did execute, explain, and instruct the standard field sobriety test properly. If the person took the field sobriety test and did not do well, or their refusal to do them would be indicative of their withholding information that could prejudice their sobriety, from the officer’s knowledge and experience, they would know that.
It is very difficult to prove. The prosecutors must prove that it was within the officer’s lawful right to detain the person who was then brought to the station or barrack and submitted a breath test which yielded a level of breath that could find conviction for a DWI or a DUI. The person was withholding that information which prejudices them and the officer did everything in their training, knowledge, and experience.
Evidence Prosecutors Will Use
The number one piece of evidence is always the stop of the vehicle. Then it is the performance on the standard field sobriety tests, the observation made by the officers both cognitively, physically, and then the breath test is always admissible if they can get it in.
Sentencing for DUI Charges in College Park
Sentencing is a very serious thing. For a first offense, judges are willing to give someone probation before judgment with several conditions they want the person to complete in the course of their DUI or they want the person to abide by throughout the course of their probation. Abiding by the conditions of probation is very important. In doing so, a person can gain the benefit of staying in a probation before judgment and not being entered in as conviction.
Trends in College Park DUI Cases
There are not necessarily trends, but DUI laws in College Park are heavily enforced. College Park does have a very large number of law enforcement officers in that particular area. That is local and state troopers who are involved in the law enforcement of DUIs in College Park area.
Appealing DUI Cases in College Park
If a person is found guilty, they have an immediate right to appeal and their appeal would take their case from the district court to the circuit court. That appeal is generally an $80 appeal bond that can be filed the same day and most judges allow a person to file that appeal. If a person is given probation before judgment, they do not have the right to appeal. The reason that they do not have the immediate right to appeal is because they have not been found guilty. The judge tries the finding of guilt, enters the probation before judgment, and during that period of time so long as the person complies with the conditions it stays just as a PBJ.
Constitutional Issues in College Park DUIs
Depending on what the DUI is for, there may be constitutional issues. For a drug related DUI in College Park, the officers may search the vehicle in a manner that was inconsistent with the stop. They needed to wait for canine for a long window of time, that after stopping the person’s vehicle, they didn’t go along with the license and registration; they went to their vehicle and came back with the citations.
When an officer goes out of the direction that is necessary to complete that task, it raises questions as to whether someone is being held and if they are being held, then the search of the vehicle would be unconstitutional without a warrant. There are plenty of cases that have come on point at present and there are new cases coming down as well that state if the officer went out of their way to execute a traffic stop, meaning that they are doing things that are not consistent with a traffic stop, then it could be suppressed. Those are constitutional issues that are followed to suppress or argue the motion to suppress and when granted the evidence does not come in and an attorney can defend and protect their client at trial.
How Constitutional Issues can Impact a Case
If an attorney can suppress evidence in a case, there is less evidence to be considered by a judge or jury. Judges and juries only consider evidence presented in court and only evidence that is allowed into the testimony and into the case. Without evidence, the state has a very difficult time proving that there was an alcohol or drug related offense.