Your Situation: So you came to Arizona on vacation or on business. You never intended to drink and drive, but now you find yourself back in your home State staring at a DUI citation from Arizona, which you signed promising to appear in Court.
Assuming you were lucky enough to avoid a felony arrest (either for Aggravated DUI, Endangerment, or Aggravated Assault), you are likely looking at a misdemeanor charge.
The Good News: If there is an upside to your situation, it is this… you may never need to come back to Arizona to appear in court as long as you have an attorney representing you.
Here’s how it works: Assuming you are charged with a misdemeanor, as long as your case doesn’t ultimately end up in trial, an attorney can appear on your behalf, conduct pretrial hearings, and negotiate with the prosecution without you being there. If a deal is reached, then the attorney can arrange a telephonic change of plea hearing (TCOP).
What you need to do to arrange it: Once a TCOP is arranged, your attorney will forward you the plea paperwork, which will include the terms of the agreement (which will be your sentence), as well as a fingerprint form which you will need to take to a local law enforcement agency to have completed.
You will also need to find a local jail that is willing to accept you for the expected number of days, according to the plea agreement. Depending on your location, you may need to pay in order to stay in your local jail (you do in Arizona for DUI jail terms). Some states, such as Texas, will not accept out of state jail commitments due to overcrowding or policy concerns. In those cases, if you are sentenced to jail time, you would need to make arrangements to come back to Arizona to serve.
The Hearing: Assuming that you and your attorney are able to arrange a favorable plea to be entered telephonically in your DUI case, you will be given a hearing date and time. You will be instructed to call the court at a number your attorney will provide you at the given hearing time. When you call, you will be connected to the Judge. Your attorney should be present to make sure that your rights are protected, and to point out any mistakes or oversights by the Court or Court Staff.
The Judge will then ask you a number of questions based on the plea agreement, to make sure you understand the terms of the agreement, as well as the rights and opportunities that you will be giving up by entering into the agreement. Some of the points that will be covered are as follows:
1) You will be giving up your right to have a trial in your DUI case, either to a Judge or a Jury;
2) You will be giving up your right against self-incrimination by telling the court that you are guilty;
3) You will be giving up your right to challenge the evidence, both on legal and factual grounds;
4) You will be giving up your right to hear and question witnesses against you;
5) You will be giving up the right to