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When a person faces a drunk driving charge, the first court appearance is called an arraignment. This is the first time that the person charged appears in front of a judge or a magistrate. Before arraignment, the charged person usually interacts only with law enforcement, corrections officers and possibly medical personnel. An arraignment might occur very soon after you’re charged with drunk driving, or it might occur weeks or even months after the alleged incident.
The jail officers might release you shortly after your arrest and give you a future court date. In other cases, you might wait in jail until you can appear before a magistrate. In other cases, the jail might release you without giving you a court date. In that case, you can expect to receive notice of your court date later on.
In cases where you’ve taken a blood test, it might take time before law enforcement receives the results of this test. They might need time to send the blood sample to their lab for processing. If that’s the case, you might not have the results for weeks or even months.
However, you have a right to a speedy trial, so it’s important to work with a Los Angeles DUI attorney to make sure that law enforcement isn’t violating your constitutional rights. Typically, law enforcement has a year to get the chemical test completed. If they don’t, your attorney can take steps to ask the court to throw out the charges against you.
If you’re held in jail until your arraignment, you should have an arraignment within two days. If not, the police and the courts may be violating your constitutional rights. In California, a person has a right to pretrial release in most drunk driving cases.
At your arraignment, you can expect the judge or magistrate to read the charges against you. The judge is going to ask how you plead. Your options are to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest.
If you have a DUI attorney, a lot can happen at an arraignment. A lot of times, the prosecutor extends a plea offer to the defendant in exchange for a guilty plea that takes place right at the arraignment proceeding. This helps the prosecutor keep their docket clear so that they can manage their busy caseload. You can accept the plea right away, but it’s usually wise to take the time to review the discovery materials.
It’s critical that you work with a DUI attorney right away in order to evaluate your options. In some cases, it’s best to take the plea deal right away and you don’t want to miss your chance. In other cases, it’s not a good idea to take the plea, because you might be able to completely defend your case. Sometimes, your attorney can ask the prosecutor to continue the arraignment at a later date in order to give you time to make a decision about the plea offer.
You’ll likely receive bond conditions as part of any pretrial release. This typically means that you can’t drink alcohol at all while you wait for future court dates. You might also have to post a bond to ensure your appearance at future court dates.
An arraignment is typically not the time for your attorney to file motions or ask the judge to throw out evidence. There are a few ways that your attorney can challenge the sufficiency of the written complaint, but that’s it. It’s not the time to make statements, either. It’s important to work with your attorney to make a game plan for your best defense.