Alexandria DUI cases are typically heard at the Alexandria General District Court, which is located on the second floor of the Alexandria Courthouse, 520 King Street in the City of Alexandria.
Alexandria DUI trials, for their initial phase, are typically bench trials since, at the general district court level, a person does not have the right to a jury trial. Although trials typically start out as bench trials, a person can choose to appeal their case to the Circuit Court for the City of Alexandria, where they then have the option for a jury trial. Typically these cases can last anywhere from 90 days to several months based on the facts and circumstances of an individual’s case.
The phases of an Alexandria DUI case can vary, but some of them remain fairly consistent throughout the Alexandria DUI process. First, there is going to be a phase involving driving behavior, including how the officer came to encounter the defendant’s vehicle.
The next stage would be the initial driver observation or driver interaction. This will include how the initial conversation between the driver and the officer went and if the officer noticed any immediate odor of alcohol.
The next stage is the field sobriety tests, if any, the preliminary breath test, if applicable, and then the certificate of analysis, meaning the breath test and the blood test.
DUI cases in Alexandria are about public safety concerns, and thus they are prosecuted very vigorously.
In these types of cases, the prosecutor needs to prove all of the elements of a person’s particular case beyond a reasonable doubt. If a person looks at the front of the warrant of the information they received after being charged with an Alexandria DUI, there is a notice on what the elements of the offense are. Certain elements of the offense are proven easily, but others are more difficult and subject to strict scrutiny.
For a DUI case that is heard in Alexandria General District Court, the sentencing event is going to happen immediately after the guilt phase of the trial. This is somewhat different than the case that happens in Circuit Court, where there may be a break before a sentencing phase.
If a person is found guilty of a DUI after an Alexandria trial, the judge may ask for additional evidence to mitigate some of the circumstances prior to the sentencing event. However, some judges will simply proceed immediately to sentencing after hearing all of the evidence of the case.
An attorney may have an opportunity to argue for a specific sentence, but many of the penalties that are associated with an Alexandria DUI are statutory, meaning they are not subject to argument or the discretion of the judge.
The court and the jury are two different sentencing events. If you are found guilty by a jury in the formal sentencing phase in which evidence to the jury is presented, this would only occur at the Alexandria Circuit Court if you had a jury trial. For a majority of case, however, the sentencing phase occurs right after in the case of the bench trial. In the general district court, or a bench trial in circuit court, in either of these occasions, you may have the opportunity to present additional evidence of it is anything that is otherwise not relevant to guilt or innocence and your local DUI attorney would be able to make additional arguments on your behalf.
A person can appeal a DUI case in Alexandria General District Court as an appeal de novo, meaning they have an appeal as a matter of right, and they can appeal for error or for another reason. An appeal means that the case starts over, and can start by simply addressing the appellate issue. The Commonwealth may also move through the entire case again from the beginning.
Additionally, the appellate jurisdiction of the circuit court means that a person may appeal their case and then have the option of a bench trial or a jury trial at circuit court level.
There are a variety of constitutional issues that arise in DUI cases, however, the most common that arise in DUI cases are Fourth Amendment issues as search and seizure, as well as confrontation clause issues regarding the presentation of certain scientific evidence or certain evidence through the shift in the analysis that the Commonwealth seeks to introduce.
Constitutional issues are very important in a DUI case. Having a strong foundation of constitutional defenses and how they may be implemented really does make a difference in a DUI defense. If someone is able to suppress issues or evidence because of a constitutional violation, such as an improper search or improper stop, the case may very well be dismissed.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law