Oftentimes if you are charged with driving under the influence in Washington, DC the first time you will appear in court is for an arraignment hearing where the charges will be presented against you and you will enter you initial plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Although no decision will be made by the judge at this time, it is still an important part of the legal process that warrants assistance from a DC DUI lawyer.
Below is more information on what you can expect when you show up for your DUI hearing in addition to some important tips to know before you step foot in court. For more specific information regarding your case, call and schedule a consultation today.
At a DC arraignment, the first thing that happens is the court informs the defendant of the charges that had been filed against him by the prosecutors and their constitutional rights. A person should not expect to be called to testify at the arraignment and should not expect to hear any testimony from police officers or other witnesses. A person will simply be informed of what the charges are, what their rights are, and what their conditions of their release would be while their case is pending.
At the arraignment hearing the defendant will have the opportunity to have a defense lawyer:
You can also expect that there would be a large number of other people present who are all waiting to also have their case called. The arraignment hearing typically will be very quick, usually lasting only a minute or two and the defendant will not be expected to speak at all at the arraignment hearing. They will simply be required to sign a notice promising to appear at a second court hearing.
The second court hearing that would be scheduled is called a status hearing. At a status hearing there would still be no testimony and still be no trial. A status hearing serves the purpose of updating the judge as to whether a plea agreement had been reached with the prosecutor, whether the defendant wants additional time to continue negotiations with the prosecutor or whether the defendant wants to set the case down for a trial.
At an arraignment, a defendant would be required to be present and a defendant has the opportunity to have a privately hired lawyer present with him. There will also be a judge present and the courtroom staff, along with prosecutors and other defendants waiting to have their case called. There would not be any police officers present for your case at your arraignment.
Arraignments in DC are not an opportunity to discuss the facts of the case with the judge. Arraignments in DC have the very limited purpose of informing you of your charges and your rights so that your lawyer can enter a plea of not guilty. A person is not expected to bring witnesses with him to his arraignment hearing and would not be expected to answer to the charges that they face.
Since an arraignment is the first opportunity for you to be in front of the judge, it’s important to make a good first impression. You should appear for the arraignment dressed appropriately. That means you should not be wearing jeans, a T-shirt, tattered or soiled clothing. You should show up as if they were showing up to a job interview. That does not necessarily mean wearing a suit and tie but it means dressing neatly with appropriate business attire. You want to make a good first impression in front of the judge because that judge could be the person who ultimately decides the outcome of your case. You should also only speak through your attorney and never directly to the judge.
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