A person in New Jersey who has decided to plead not guilty to a DUI charge will probably attend a preliminary hearing. When a defendant pleads guilty, there is no preliminary hearing because the defendant is essentially admitting to the charges and agreeing to go straight to sentencing.
A preliminary hearing is a hearing that takes place a short time after the arraignment and before the actual trial. During the preliminary hearing, a judge will hear arguments from the prosecution and the defense and decide whether to proceed to a trial. If a judge finds that the prosecution has a strong case against the defendant, the case will go to trial. If the defendant’s attorney is able to convince the judge that the prosecution’s case is weak, the case will be dismissed, and there will be no need for a trial.
When a judge is making a decision about a case during the preliminary hearing, they are considering whether the prosecution has enough evidence to convince a reasonable jury that the defendant is guilty of DUI. The defense will have an opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses for the prosecution and dispute the validity of any evidence that is being presented by the prosecution.
In a majority of DUI cases, there is no preliminary hearing because the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the charges. Although pleading guilty is sometimes the best option, a defendant might want to consult an attorney before deciding how to plead. If an individual has a strong chance of having their case dismissed, an attorney may advise them to plead not guilty and then help represent their position at the preliminary hearing.