Pennsylvania Law allows police to release a person who is stopped for DUI and charge them with the offense via Summons. The "summons" is the paperwork that is mailed to you to initiate the criminal proceedings. The summons package will, generally, contain three things.
First, the Criminal complaint. This lists the charges that have been filed against you and contains a brief summary of what the officer alleges occurred in the Affidavit of Probable Cause. This is your first look at what the officer is claiming you have done and is important information that an experienced DUI Attorney can use to evaluate the merits of your case.
Second, a Preliminary Hearing notice. This will list the date and location of your preliminary hearing before a District Judge.
Third, a fingerprint order. This will instruct you to appear at the Bureau of Criminal Identification to be fingerprinted for this offense as it was not done at the time of the DUI stop.
The Preliminary Hearing
Your first Court Appearance will be the Preliminary Hearing before the District Judge who has jurisdiction over the municipality in which you have been charged. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is not to determine if you are guilty or not guilty. It is to determine whether the Commonwealth has the minimum evidence necessary for the case to proceed to the trial court level.
This proceeding is important from the defense prospective in that it is the first opportunity for the defense to gather first hand information as to the allegations against you. This is information that an experienced DUI Attorney can use to reach the best possible outcome in your case.
It is best to retain an experienced DUI Lawyer prior to the preliminary hearing so that your rights can be protected from the earliest possible time in the process.
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