DC DUI Arraignment Lawyer

A DUI arraignment in DC is your first appearance before a judge in your criminal case. Although you will not present any testimony or receive a verdict or criminal sentence at an arraignment, it is essential that you have experienced legal representation at the arraignment.

Working with an experienced defense attorney during this process can not only put you at ease, but it can also help your case move forward and achieve a favorable result later on. Thus, it is in your best interest if facing DUI charges to consult with a DC DUI arraignment lawyer to discuss your case and begin building a defense. Call a DC DUI lawyer today to learn more.

DUI Arraignments

An arraignment is an important hearing where you are officially informed of the charges that the government prosecutors have filed against you. You or the DC DUI arraignment lawyer representing you is asked to enter a plea. At this point, the plea will be “not guilty.” You then schedule a second court hearing, called a status hearing, so that your DUI arraignment attorney in DC has an opportunity to analyze the evidence against you, discuss possible defenses, and negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution.

At your arraignment hearing, there will not be any testimony. You will not be asked to make any statements, and the judge will not hear any of the evidence against you. It is simply a hearing to inform you of what you are charged with so that your DC DUI arraignment lawyer can start the process of negotiating possible resolutions with the prosecutor on your behalf.

When and Where It Takes Place

An initial arraignment date takes place at the Washington DC Superior Courthouse which is located at 500 Indiana Ave in Northwest DC. A DC first appearance is typically scheduled for about three to four weeks after a person is arrested. During those three to four weeks, a person who is facing DUI charges can travel and go wherever he or she wishes as long as they promise to appear for their initial court date at the DC Superior Court.

Who Attends

A defendant is always required to be present at their first appearance in DC, even if they’ve hired a lawyer prior to the initial hearing. A defendant will always be present with an attorney at the arraignment. If a person has not hired a lawyer prior to arraignment, then a lawyer would be provided by the court for the sole purpose of arraignment representation. At that point, if a person qualifies financially for continued representation by a court-appointed lawyer, then the court will appoint a lawyer to represent that person for the duration of the case.

If a person does not financially qualify for a court-appointed lawyer, then the court would grant the defendant a certain period of time to seek out a lawyer and retain that lawyer’s services. Even if the court deemed the person as qualified for court-appointed counsel, a defendant is not required to accept the services of a court-appointed lawyer. Every defendant has the absolute right to hire the lawyer of his or her choosing and have that lawyer present with him or her at any stage of the process.

The Judge

In a DUI case, when a person is given a citation to appear for an arraignment hearing, that person’s arraignment will be before the judge who will most likely be presiding over that case for the duration of the matter. There are certain situations in which a person can switch judges. One of those situations is when a person asks that there be a case file report and associate judge.

Every DUI case is initially arraigned before a magistrate judge, who is a lower level judge in DC Superior Court. People who do not consent to have their case proceed before a magistrate judge will be entitled to have their case switched to an associate judge, who would be assigned at random. A person may expect to have the judge from his or her first appearance in DC at his or her trial, but that judge may have the possibility of sending the trial to a different judge on the trial date.

Role of a DC DUI Arraignment Attorney

The role of an attorney in a DC DUI arraignment is to speak on behalf of the person who is charged with the crime. The attorney has the responsibility of entering the plea of “not guilty,” asserting and defending the client’s constitutional rights, making any specific discovery demands, and requesting the scheduling of a second court hearing.

In addition, the defense attorney can discuss with the judge any conditions that a defendant would have to comply with to be released on his or her own personal promise to come back to court for the next hearing. That means that the DC DUI arraignment attorney can argue on behalf of his client for the least restrictive conditions to maintain a person’s release while the criminal charge is pending.

The role of the DUI defense attorney is the same whether the defense attorney is directly hired by the defendant or is appointed by the court. The difference between the two can manifest itself in the experience and skill-set that a privately-hired lawyer brings to an arraignment. To learn more, call and schedule a consultation today.

Difference Between DC Arraignments and Other Arraignments

DC DUI arraignments are similar to arraignments in other jurisdictions in that the purpose of the arraignment is to officially inform you of the charges that have been filed by the prosecutor. DUI arraignments are different in Washington DC because the arraignments in DC are much more limited than they can be in some other jurisdictions. In some states, the arraignment is the same day that a prosecutor may make a plea offer and a judge may have to power to sentence you on that day. In some jurisdictions, your arraignment day can sometimes be your first, last, and only court hearing.

In the District of Columbia, an arraignment will almost never be your last court date in a DUI case. Regardless of the evidence, there will always be, at the very least, a second court hearing to allow your DC DUI arraignment lawyer enough time to be able to go through the evidence, analyze the facts put forward against you, conduct a full negotiation with the prosecutor and be able to fully discuss with you what your options might be. This way, there is a possibility that a more favorable negotiating option may be available to you by the second court date and you would have the option to fully discuss with your lawyer the possibility of taking your case to trial.

Representation from a Court Appointed Attorney

For a person who is being represented by a court-appointed lawyer, at their first court appearance, the chances are pretty good that the defendant will not have spoken to or possibly even met the court-appointed lawyer prior to having the case called by the judge. Thus, a court-appointed lawyer might not know the specific situation of the client they are representing during that hearing. The lawyer might not know much about that person’s background and might not be in the best position to effectively argue for the least restrictive conditions of release.

Furthermore, court-appointed lawyers, as a result of the dozens of clients that they may be representing, may not be in a position to make a specific discovery request and may not be in a position to represent a client on an individualized basis. For that reason, when a person goes in for their very first court hearing, having a privately-hired lawyer with whom they have met with in the past and understands their situation, may be better able to put their client at ease going into the very first stages of this case.