Is a DC DUI Arraignment The Same Thing as a Trial?

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Washington, DC, you will likely be required to come to an arraignment before your trial. Below, a DC DUI arraignment lawyer discusses the difference between appearing at an arraignment and appearing at trial. For more call and schedule a consultation today.

Difference Between A DUI Arraignment and Trial

An arraignment and a trial are two very different types of hearing. Every DUI case starts off with an arraignment where you’re simply notified of the charges against you so that your lawyer can enter a plea of “not guilty” on your behalf. At an arraignment, there are no witnesses called, there is no testimony offered, and the judge makes no determination on the merits of your case.

After your arraignment, your case may end up going to a trial. At a trial, the government prosecutors are required to call their own witnesses to provide evidence that would prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense would be able to challenge the government’s evidence, and could call witnesses to testify. The defendant would also have the opportunity to testify, should they choose to do so.  At the conclusion of a trial, the judge or jury would determine whether the prosecutor has proven the defendant guilty; if not, the defendant would be acquitted of the charges.

Many DUI cases can be resolved through negotiations with the prosecutor, as opposed to a trial.  Negotiated resolutions can result in reduced charges, lower penalties, and even sometimes in dismissed cases. Defense lawyers must be aggressive and persistent with negotiations; doing so can help the client minimize the risk he faces of more severe consequences and create favorable alternatives to taking a case to trial.

What Is a Presentment? Does Every DUI Case Have A Presentment?

In a DUI case (or in any misdemeanor case), the most common thing to happen after a person is arrested is for that person to receive a citation to appear in court for their arraignment about 3 to 4 weeks later. This is called a citation and release.

With felony charges, however, a person isn’t released directly from the police station. In these cases, a person is required to be presented before a judge at the next available date, which is usually the day after the arrest. This is called a presentment hearing. The purpose of the presentment hearing is to determine whether or not a person will be released while their case is pending or whether he or she shall be held for a certain period of time until their release status can be reassessed by a different judge at a later date.

In certain situations, the presentment judge may be required by law to hold a defendant in custody, while in other situations pretrial detention is at the judge’s discretion. In the latter cases, the presentment judge can consider whether a person’s criminal history suggests he is a danger to the community or a flight risk.