DUI Court Process
(The use of the pronoun “he” in this description refers to both male and female)
- The Arresting Officer
Arrest for DUI may be made by any highway patrol officer, sheriff or his duly commissioned deputies, any police officer in any incorporated municipality, any officer of a state supported institution of higher learning campus police force on campus property, any security officer appointed and commissioned pursuant to the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, in their area, Park Ranger on federal property, Military Police on military bases, and constables in their counties.
- DUI Arrests
The arresting officer issues the person arrested a traffic citation or affidavit that conforms to the Uniform Traffic Citation Act under § 63-9-211 (3)(b) Miss. Code Ann. (1972). This citation is a multi-copy form, and the person arrested should be provided with a copy. The original citation should be presented by the arresting officer to the city or justice court in the city or county where the arrest took place. The arresting officer swears that the arrested person/defendant committed the DUI, and the court clerk takes the sworn citation to begin the case.
- The Arrested Person
The defendant accused of driving under the influence is arrested by an officer and is either placed in a city or county jail to await trial or is allowed to make bond to come back and attend an arraignment.
- Court Dates
The first court appearance for a DUI is called an arraignment. The person accused of a DUI and/or his attorney appears before the court to either plead guilty or not guilty. If a defendant pleads guilty, the judge makes a finding and should explain to the defendant that he has the right to counsel and that if he cannot afford counsel one will be appointed. The court will have the defendant sign a “waiver of rights” form that will become part of the record. The judge can make a finding of guilty, then sentence the defendant according to the penalties set forth under § 63-11-30 Miss. Code Ann. (1972), and in this web site under DUI statutes, including jail terms, fines, community service, state assignments and attend Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP). The court clerk will then send an abstract of the conviction entered by the judge to the Mississippi Highway Patrol where it will be entered into that person's driving record. The Patrol will then send notice to the defendant of his license suspension and requirements for license reinstatement which are, proof of SR-22 insurance, completion of the license suspension period, and a reinstatement fee. The suspension times can be shortened by attendance and completion of the MASEP for first offenders. Should the accused person enter a plea of not guilty, then the court clerk will set the case for trial.
- The Trial
At the trial, the arresting officer and any other witnesses for the prosecution, will present the case for the State of Mississippi. The defendant has the right not to testify. At the close of the trial, the judge will decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Should the judge find the defendant guilty, he will sentence him according to the penalties set forth under § 63-11-30 Miss. Code Ann. (1972), and in this web site. Should the judge find the accused not guilty, that person is released.
- The Appeal
Should the person accused be found guilty in the justice or municipal court, he may appeal to the court or circuit court for a new trial. In order to appeal, the defendant must file a notice of appeal to the higher court, along with an appeal bond to ensure his appearance, and a cash bond that reflects the circuit court fee and state assessments.
- The Docket Setting
The DUI case appealed from the city or justice court is set on the calendar of the county or circuit court for dates to include pretrial motions, pleas, and for trial.
- The DUI Trial
The DUI trial may either be held before a trial judge or jury at the discretion of that judge. If the trial is a jury, then either six (6) or twelve (12) persons may hear the case.
- The Verdict
The jury hears the case and renders a verdict of guilty or not guilty, and/or the jury may be unable to decide and will report this to the court. Upon a finding of guilty, the judge can declare the defendant to be guilty and sentence him according to the penalties set forth under § 63-11-30 Miss. Code Ann. (1972) and in this web site. Should the defendant be found not guilty, the judge can release him. Should the jury be unable to decide either guilty or not guilty, then the judge can declare a mistrial and the defendant can be retried for the DUI.
The defendant in county or circuit court for a DUI may, under certain circumstances, appeal the conviction to the appellate courts. The appeal is governed by the appellate rules of court, and is completed by legal briefs and arguments from the county or circuit court trial.
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