In some cases your Constitutional rights can be violated during a DUI stop. Constitutional issues apply in every single criminal case in Virginia and nationwide because your liberty is being deprived if you are arrested. If you feel this may have happened to you, contact an experienced Arlington DUI attorney today. An experienced lawyer will be able to determine what rights, if any, were violated, and will understand the best method of approaching the case.
There are a couple of constitutional issues that your attorney should be looking for. The first is whether the police had reason to detain you to investigate in the first place, meaning were they justified in pulling your car over or stopping your freedom so you could not leave. The police must be able to justify under the Constitution that they had reasonable suspicion that you made an offense in order to stop you.
The next thing that your attorney should be looking for is whether there was probable cause to arrest you. Probable cause is a very nuance a term of law that requires that before police place you under arrest, they must be able to articulate probable cause that you committed an offense. If they are unable to do that, then the Constitution comes into play and eventually your arrest can be suppressed.
Next, your Constitutional rights are affected if you were being interrogated while you were in custody but were not read your Miranda right. If the police fail to read your Miranda rights. If your Miranda rights were read and you request an attorney but police continued on with the questioning, that can be a constitutional violation that can be used to your benefit.
In general, if there is in fact a constitutional issue and you and your attorney can show that it did in fact occur, the court will remedy the violation by excluding the evidence that was obtained in violation pursuant the exclusionary rule. Your attorney will file a motion to suppress in order to ask for application of the exclusionary rule. For example, if the police pull your car over without a reason and there is not enough evidence presented to the court as to why the car was pulled over, the stop was probably unconstitutional and your attorney should file a motion to suppress. If the judge rules that the stop was in fact unconstitutional and grants the motion, then all the evidence the police gathered as a result of the constitutional violation will be suppressed. In almost all cases, that suppression leads in dismissal.
Additionally, any evidence gained in violation of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination cannot be used against you. That is just another example of how any constitutional violations by police can benefit your case.
You have an automatic right to appeal a misdemeanor case heard by a judge in the general district court. The appeal will be heard in the circuit court in Arlington de novo, and will have a new judge or jury who will hear it without taking into account anything that happened in the court below, even if you plead guilty.
In circuit court there are trials on both misdemeanors and felonies. If you are charged with a DUI felony, your initial trial must be in the circuit court, and if you are found guilty you can appeal that decision to the court of appeals. Unlike a trial in general district court, this is an appeal on a motion so there will be no new trial in the court. If you win in appellate court, your case can be remanded back down to the circuit court for another trial or dismissed entirely. However, if you are not happy with the Court of Appeals decision, you may appeal its decision to the Supreme Court of Virginia. The Supreme Court of Virginia is typically the last stop, but a case can go to the Supreme Court in extremely rare instances.
Everyone should know that the prosecutors take DUI cases extremely seriously; they are unlikely to reduce these charges. Next, it is also important to keep in mind that if you are pulled over by police, you have the right to refuse to perform the field sobriety test and a right to refuse the preliminary breath test. Performing these tests only gives police evidence against you that they would not have otherwise.
Lastly, everyone should know DUIs are extremely nuanced area of law and that there is a lot of case law on the subject. There are constitutional issues and there are procedural issues. You need an attorney to protect your interests in a DUI case not only because of all the legal issues that arise, but also because the extremely serious consequences.
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