Once you are arrested for a DUI, your life will change dramatically. If you've never been charged with a crime before, this may be your first experience being a defendant in court. You will have to appear in court for a DUI a minimum of one time, several times if your case goes to trial. Your first court appearance after a DUI arrest will be your arraignment hearing. You may be arraigned immediately from being in custody or, if you posted bail and were released, it could be up to several weeks later. The arraignment is a first hearing where the basics of your case will be laid out. You will either be convicted or sentenced or arrangements for further proceedings will be made. At your DUI hearing, you may be in a courtroom with several other defendants. When it is time for your case to he "heard", your name will be called and you will come to the front of the courtroom. The court will first give you your constitutional rights. You may be surprised to hear that you have rights as a defendant in court. The sixth amendment states that you have a right to a speedy trial and so while the arraignment may happen relatively quickly, if you decide to go to trial, the judge may ask you to waive the speedy trial component to better accommodate courtroom scheduling. You also have the right to representation, either by a private attorney you hire or a public defender appointed to you by the court. This is an important right to exercise. You will also be provided a copy of your police report and given the complaint against you, which includes the details of your charges. Bail will be set, if applicable, and any future court dates will be set. The arraignment is when you might also be appointed a public defender, if you want one and qualify. If you were in custody at the time of the arraignment, which can happen if you were taken into custody over a weekend, while court is not in session, you may be released after the arraignment. However, if you wish to continue your case and are not entering a plea, the court may not release you if they feel it is unlikely you will show up at future court dates. Not showing up to your arraignment, then later being taken into custody, can mean you may not be release on your own recognizance on future court dates. As you can see, the arraignment is mostly procedural. It provides you, the defendant, with all the relevant facts of your case that will be considered by the prosecution and an explanation of your rights. Having this information can help you build a better defense so it is very important you attend your arraignment. Remember, simply going to the arraignment does not mean you will automatically be convicted; you can have the option of withholding your plea and asking for the hearing be reset while you consult with an attorney or a public defender if one is appointed to you. This is one of your rights as a defendant. For this reason, it is always a good idea to go to your DUI arraignment, even if you don't feel prepared. Failing to appear at your arraignment will have its consequences. The judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This means that an officer of the law can bring you into custody, without even have been convicted, so you can appear before a judge for sentencing. You can also be charged with a separate charge for just not showing up, should the prosecution choose to file additional charges. You may also have to forfeit any bail you posted and can face additional fines or fees from the court. You should always appear at your DUI arraignment. If you are unsure as to what will happen or don't know what to expect, contact a DUI defense attorney right away for a consultation. They can outline the process of the DUI arraignment and answer any questions you might have about the process. It is better to prepare and inform yourself as soon as you can rather than simply not go and face potential additional criminal charges.
Are you or a loved one facing DUI charges and have questions about your DUI hearing? Contact attorney Christopher Martens for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. With 10 years experience in criminal defense, Christopher Martens can ensure you are prepared for your DUI hearing. Mr. Martens has handled thousands of criminal defense cases and has taken over 50 to trial; he will not be afraid to fight tenaciously for your rights. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.