A: Preliminary Hearing. The first court proceeding in most cases is the preliminary hearing. This is often the most crucial hearing in your case. The preliminary hearing is not a trial. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to protect your right against an unlawful arrest and detention. At this hearing the Commonwealth must make at least a prima facie case - that is, at least a minimal showing - that a particular crime was committed and that you are probably the one who committed it. At this stage, the Commonwealth doesn't have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to meet its burden the Commonwealth must present some evidence regarding each of the elements (or parts) of the crime charged. If the government can't meet this burden, your case will be dismissed. Suppression Hearing. If your case cannot be resolved to your satisfaction at the preliminary hearing and you want to challenge certain evidence being offered against you, you can request a suppression hearing. A suppression hearing allows you to challenge the admissibility of certain. evidence that will be offered against you. Some of these motions may argue that using certain evidence against you would violate your constitutional rights. A ruling in your favor can result in evidence being excluded from your trial, and increases your odds of winning. Some examples include constitutional challenges which question the basis for the police pulling you over or stopping your car at a roadblock or, in other cases, the reasons for the police searching your car or your home. Other topics that might be the subject of a suppression hearing include the results of blood, breath, or field sobriety tests might be excluded, or perhaps the prosecution won't be allowed to use certain statements that you made. The pretrial motion stage occurs anywhere from six weeks to three months after the preliminary hearing. Plea. If you enter a plea (sounds like "plee") then you must state on the record before a judge 1) that you understand the facts that led to your being charged with the offense; 2) that you understand the elements of the law that must be proven in order to be convicted of the offense; 3) that you understand the maximum sentence that can be imposed upon conviction; 4) that you understand that the government has the burden of proving each element of every offense you face; 5) that you understand that you do not have to prove your innocence; 6) that you understand that you are presumed to be innocent; 7) that you have the right to a jury trial; 8) that you understand that in order to be convicted at trial, all jurors must come to a unanimous agreement that the government has met its burden of proof as to each and every element of the offenses charged (otherwise the verdict must be "not guilty"); and 9) that you, by entering a plea of guilty, give up the right to have a jury decide your case. This is, for obvious reasons, an extremely important proceeding Much time and thought must be put into such a decision which has long lasting and far reaching effects. Trial. Everyone has watched at least small portions of trials on television programs What you have seen on TV provides only a glimpse into what really happens at a real trial. In essence, during a trial, each side will have the opportunity to present its evidence and to challenge evidence presented by the other side. In most cases, a jury of 12 citizens will hear all of the testimony and consider all of the evidence and then decide what happened. The jury will learn about the law from the judge and then apply the law to the facts (which the jury have determined based on what they heard and saw during the trial) before rendering a verdict. Under the Fifth Amendment to the U S Constitution, you will not be required to testify yourself. Whether or not you do testify on your own behalf is something that must be discussed at length and on more than one occasion with your lawyer. Time with your lawyer is crucial to your making the best decision about whether or not to testify. In Pennsylvania, there are no jury trial on allegations of "ungraded misdemeanors". All first, and nearly all second, DUI offenses are ungraded misdemeanors. Therefore, if your DUI is an ungraded misdemeanor, a judge, rather than a jury, will hear the evidence. If you are arrested on a second offense DUI with an alleged BAC of 16% or higher (or if you refuse testing), or a third offense DUI, you will have the right to a jury trial. When determining whether you have prior offenses, the court will look back 10 years. Sentencing. If you are convicted at trial, or if you negotiate a plea agreement and entered a plea, the court will sentence you. A sentence for DUI may include jail time, in-home detention ("house arrest"), public service, alcohol classes and/or fines. The maximum period of time for which a county can imprison and/ or supervise most offenders ranges from six months to five years. The length of a sentence depends on the number and nature of any previous convictions, any need for treatment, the nature of the present offense and the like. All repeat DUI offenders must have their cars equipped with an Ignition-Interlock Restriction System for at least one year. A new offense is created for driving without a required ignition- interlock system after consuming any amount of alcohol. For more information about the penalties for a DUI conviction, keep reading.