How Long Does a DUI Arraignment Take? The Answer and More!
After you're arrested for driving under the influence in Texas, you usually have a first court appearance on the way. This court date is set for what is known as an arraignment. Technically speaking, these DUI trials are supposed to occur within days of your arrest.
However, a series of circumstances can affect the legal process here, especially if you're doing jail time. It can be a bit of an overwhelming time for a DUI defendant. The good news is that the process is a lot less intense than what future court dates are going to look like. Still, you want to navigate it as efficiently as possible.
Your arraignment could be the start of a slippery slope if you don't have the right attorney by your side. Contact Sparks Law Firm at (817) 381-7846 for a free no-obligation consultation ahead of your case.
Arraignment Preparation for DUI Cases
The preparation process for arraignments is nothing too intense. However, you do need to be particularly strategic about the entire legal proceeding if you have prior alcohol-related offenses on the record, especially since these can be used to sway the outcome of your pending DUI charges.
Considering Texas uses the law of implied consent, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can opt for an administrative suspension of your driver's license. If you wish to fight the suspension, then you must request a DMV hearing, which halts the suspended ruling until the outcome is presented. Without a hearing request, the suspension is automatically imposed within about 30 days of your arrest.
The DUI Arraignment Stage Process in a Nutshell
Following a DUI arrest, you receive a notice of arraignment, which typically arrives in the mail. Alternatively, it may be presented once the arresting officer completes the arrest process. This section is all about the arraignment and what it may look like.
Charges and Rights
This is arguably the main reason for an arraignment. Note that the prosecuting attorney isn't expressing the case against you at this stage. Similarly, you would not necessarily need to present evidence to fight DUI arrests here. Instead, it's about understanding what the charges in your DUI case are and accepting or denying guilt.
The judge, in an open court, relays this by reading whatever law(s) you may have violated according to a submitted police report. Your rights are also explained here, though you can choose to forego this part of the process. Usually, defendants who have a lawyer serving them at this stage of the DUI process are well aware of this aspect and do not necessarily need the refresher.
DUI Defense Attorney
The right to an attorney is granted to all defendants. The judge usually checks to see if you want the court to appoint an attorney to you. If you were to respond positively, then a public defender would likely be assigned to help you defend your criminal charge. Alternatively, you can choose to hire a private lawyer, which is always the way to go for these criminal charges.
Once you indicate the desire to have an attorney, DUI arraignments tend to have their dates reset so you can have time to secure a criminal defense lawyer. Your court-appointed attorney is selected immediately if you go that route.
Bail and Release Conditions
Provided the criminal process has landed you in jail since you've been arrested for a high reported blood alcohol level, DUI arraignments are also meant to address any concerns and conditions surrounding bail arrangements.
The decision depends on several elements. You may find that you get a release and are not required to post bail. Alternatively, a bail amount may be set.
In either case, there are what are known as conditions of release. You must agree to these for your release to occur and remain in effect. For example, you may be required to commit to showing up for upcoming court dates.
While you're not required to be submitting evidence here, you may find yourself on the receiving end of some. That's because of what is known as the discovery process. Here, any pieces of evidence in the prosecution's case enter the possession of the attorney representing the defendant. This tends to begin with police reports being turned over.
Do You Plead Guilty or Enter a Not Guilty Plea?
During your free consult, your attorney would've advised you about the plea section of the proceeding. Typically, a not guilty plea is entered during this section of the first court date process.
Note that you reserve the right to change your mind and plead guilty or enter a plea of "no contest" later on if you begin with a not guilty plea. If applicable and beneficial, your lawyer may seek a plea bargain with the prosecution at this point. Should the plea bargain not reach a consensus or be absent overall, the trial phase comes next.
Whenever DUI cases are going to go beyond the arraignment trial date, the defendant can choose to have a jury trial or a bench trial. As the name implies, the former relies on a jury, while the latter sees the entire responsibility being overtaken by the presiding judge.
When Does Arraignment Happen?
As indicated before, your arraignment for driving under the influence shouldn't take too long. State law determines how long a defendant should be waiting. The period tends to be shorter if the defendant is in jail after the arrest following having blood alcohol content measured by whichever of the field sobriety tests was prescribed.
Note, however, that you do have the right to a speedy arraignment, and the attorney helping you fight your DUI charge is likely going to fight for this result on your behalf.
The Pretrial Conference
The criminal process tends to move to a pretrial conference a few weeks after the arraignment. Your attorney is allowed to file any desired motions during the waiting period, which may include any of the following:
Motion for discovery, which typically applies when a prosecution refuses to turn over the required evidence
Motion to recuse a judge, which is based on a less than favorable reputation in certain instances such as being overly harsh on clients when aggravating circumstances are at play
Motion for change of venue, which is typically used for high profile criminal cases
The prosecution typically offers a plea agreement here. On the other hand, your defense lawyer may make requests here. For example, the attorney may know that most trials with the parameters of yours end in jail time. Therefore, a request for community service instead of jail may be made. Plea offers are more lenient for a first offense, especially if no aggravating factors are present.
Should you plea guilty at this stage, a confirmation is made that you wish to waive the constitutional rights that you've been advised of. Following this confirmation, the court then issues the sentence immediately. Without a satisfactory plea agreement or if there is reasonable doubt in the case against you, then the DUI case is headed to trial.
Jury trials tend to begin with a jury selection following motions in limine, and can be on the advantageous side since your attorney doesn't technically need to convince the entire jury you aren't guilty. You can only be convicted following a unanimous verdict.
Typically, the arresting officer and whichever technician was responsible for the chemical test results testify.
After selecting the jury, each side provides opening statements. The prosecution then presents its case, after which the criminal defense side gets to cross-examine witnesses. The defense can aim to dismiss after the prosecution rests. Evidence can then be presented if the request is dismissed.
At this stage, the prosecution makes a rebuttal testimony, the defense rests, and then closing arguments are presented by both sides in the court.
Jury instructions are read here, after which the jury deliberates and delivers a verdict. Alternatively, you may see an incident occur where the jury is hung.
Note that a hung jury can mean the case goes one of several ways. The prosecution may opt for a plea agreement, or retrying the case. Not retrying the case is also an option. Your defense lawyer can attempt to have the case dismissed.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Attorney Ahead of Your Court Appearance!
The attorney-client relationship is a big part of these proceedings as it requires sensitive or confidential information to remain between the client and the lawyer. An experienced attorney, such as from a reliable Fort Worth DWI law office like Sparks Law Firm, understands this kind of confidential relationship and supports you through it. They help address various concerns, including how long can your license be suspended for 2 DUIs.
Don't face the prosecutor and judge alone after your DUI arrest. Schedule a free evaluation of your case with an expert lawyer in Fort Worth, TX, by calling (817) 381-7846 today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When Does My Lawyer Get Documents Containing Evidence Against Me?
This usually happens during the discovery process of the arraignment. However, the prosecutor may refuse this course of action.
What Is the Right to Counsel?
The premise speaks to your right to retain an attorney for your DUI case.
Can a Conviction Be Delivered Based on Chemical Test Refusal?
No. While the prosecutor may argue for it, guilt doesn't constitute an offense. However, you are advised to take the breath test for the best outcome in DUI cases.