Plea in DC DUI Arraignments

If you have been charged for driving under the influence in DC, the initial step in your case may be appearing at arraignment and entering a plea. With this in mind, the following is what you should know according to a DC DUI arraignment lawyer including why you will almost always plead not guilty at a DUI arraignment. For more information on what this can mean for your case, or to discuss specifics, call and schedule a consultation today.

Choosing a Plea In a DC DUI Arraignment

At a DC DUI arraignment, there is only one plea that should be entered, and that would be a plea of “not guilty.” The reason why all DUI arraignments result in a plea of “not guilty” is because at the point of arraignment, the defense has not yet had an opportunity to inspect the evidence that the prosecutors plan on using in the case and has not yet had an opportunity to discuss that evidence with his client and with the prosecutor.

When a defense attorney is asked to enter a plea on behalf of his client at arraignment, the expectation is that the defense attorney would enter a plea of not guilty and then schedule another court hearing in order to be able to more fully discuss and analyze the evidence and help his client decide on the best course of action.

Once a defense attorney and the defendant have discussed the evidence, conducted the discussions with a prosecutor and are able to negotiate a favorable plea agreement, then the defendant would be able to change the “not guilty” plea to a plea of “guilty”.  After a guilty plea, the defendant would be sentenced by the judge after hearing sentencing arguments from both the government and from the defense lawyer.  A decision would then be made as to what the most appropriate punishment is, based on the evidence presented by both sides. The defendant could also choose to maintain a “not guilty” plea and proceed to a trial in order to force the government bear the burden of proving that the he or she was in fact guilty of the crime in question.

What Should You Know About Pleas in DC DUI Arraignments?

When you appear for a DC DUI arraignment, you should not expect to be able to discuss the facts of your case with your judge and you should not expect to have any witnesses (either police officers or defense witnesses) called.  Police officers are not expected to appear at DC DUI arraignments because no testimony is considered at that time.

The first thing that will happen when you arrived for your DC DUI arraignment is that you would wait for the court to call your name, at which point you will come up to the front of the courtroom and stand next to your defense lawyer. You would only be asked to say your name, and your lawyer will take care of the rest of the talking for you.  Your lawyer will enter a plea of “not guilty” to your charges, assert a number of your constitutional rights, and will be able to make requests for the government’s evidence against you.

After the defense lawyer makes his representations, the judge will then discuss with the defendant any conditions he would have to follow while his case is pending.  Common release conditions include a drug and alcohol evaluation by the Court’s Pretrial Services Agency and order to not drive after consuming any amount of alcohol or drugs. These conditions are not considered part of a sentence in your case, and the results of any alcohol or drug assessments conducted by pretrial services are not evidence in your trial.