What to Expect at a DUI Arraignment: Everything You Need to Know
If an individual has been arrested and charged for a DUI, they will soon enter the criminal process. First-time offenders may not know much about this process. The process can be confusing. It can also feel overwhelming and scary for those who have never faced criminal charges or appeared before a court.
A DUI defense attorney can help an individual navigate the next steps following a DUI charge. The attorneys at Sparks Law Firm can help an individual prepare for their first court appearance and any future court dates following a DUI arrest.
What is a DUI?
DUI stands for "driving under the influence." A DUI charge means that an individual was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drugs, in this case, can include prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and illegal drugs.
A DUI charge can be very serious. Texas is one of the most conservative states in that nation when it comes to drinking and driving. Depending on the offense, the penalties can be severe.
What Happens Following an Arrest for DUI?
When an individual is arrested for DUI, they will be taken into custody by a police officer. After filing a police report, law enforcement officials provide the individual with a ticket that outlines the charges they face and the next steps. This will include a court date and the court location.
DUI: Preliminary Arraignment
The first step in the legal process following a DUI arrest is an arraignment. In DUI cases, an arraignment is a pre-trial court hearing. The preliminary arraignment is part of the information listed on the ticket provided by the police.
This is the first court appearance an individual will make following the event. It is an opportunity for the individual to learn more about the charges that have been filed against them. All individuals are provided this opportunity via an arraignment. This is outlined in the sixth amendment of the United States Constitution.
When Will an Individual be Arraigned?
An arraignment is typically scheduled 72 hours following the arrest. Though the courts are busy, individuals do have the right to a quick arraignment. A quick turn-around can help alleviate the burden of stress and confusion caused by this process.
Does an Individual Have to Attend the Arraignment?
A DUI arraignment is not a trial date. However, it is a legal procedure and the first step in the legal process following a drunk driving arrest. Individuals involved in DUI cases need to attend their scheduled arraignment.
If an individual misses their scheduled arraignment, the judge can issue a bench warrant. A bench warrant allows police officers to arrest the individual. In addition to a bench warrant, a judge may also increase the posted bail.
When determining a bail amount, the judge considers a few things. One of these things is whether an individual will appear in court. If an individual does not show up for their arraignment, the judge can increase the bail amount.
What Happens During a DUI Arraignment?
This first court date presents an opportunity for the individual to hear the DUI charges that have been filed against them. During the arraignment, a few things will happen.
First, a criminal court judge will address the individual and read the charges in front of the court. Next, the judge will provide the DUI defendant an opportunity to seek legal counsel. The judge will ask the individual if they already have an attorney or if they wish to have a court-appointed attorney or public defender.
Then, the judge will ask how to defendant wishes to plea. The individual can plead guilty, not guilty, no contest, or mute. An experienced attorney can help an individual navigate the DUI process and assist with presenting the plea.
To plead guilty means to admit fault for the charges presented. If an individual enters a guilty plea, they are admitting to committing the crime. The judge will only accept this plea if it is valid. If an individual pleads guilty and the judge finds it valid, they will be sentenced immediately.
Plead Not Guilty
When an individual pleads not guilty, they are stating they did not commit the crimes they are being accused of committing. An individual will plead not guilty in front of an open court. Once an individual enters a not guilty plea, the judge will set a jury trial date.
During a DUI arraignment, pleading not guilty to pending DUI charges provides the attorney additional time to prepare a strong case for trial.
Plead No Contest
An individual may plead guilty. They may also plead not guilty. If they don't plead either of those two ways, they may plead no contest. A no-contest plea means the individual is neither admitting to the charges faced nor denying them.
A mute plea is when an individual stays silent. In this case, they do not make a plea. The judge will then enter this type of plea as not guilty.
How to Prepare for a DUI Arraignment
When charged with driving under the influence, an individual will want to seek legal counsel. They are advised to do this right away. It is best to seek legal counsel before the DUI arraignment.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
A criminal charge for DUI is no laughing matter. This is especially true for individuals with prior alcohol-related offenses. An individual will want to ensure they select the best criminal defense attorney to assist with their case.
Preparing for the Initial Court Appearance
A criminal defense attorney can help an individual move through their first court date with ease. They can help an individual understand the different types of pleas and the consequences associated with each one. This is one of the most important decisions an individual will make during their DUI arraignment.
If an individual pleads guilty or no contest, they can accept a plea bargain. A plea bargain is presented by the prosecutor. If an individual pleads not guilty or mute, a trial date will be set and the case will go to trial.
An experienced attorney from Sparks Law Firm can help prepare a strong case. They can gather and present evidence that can help reduce or diminish the case should it go to trial. A criminal defense attorney can also help walk an individual through the plea bargain process.
Entering a Plea Bargain & Future Court Dates
If an individual pleads guilty or no contest, they may enter into a plea bargain. In DUI arraignments, a plea agreement is made with the prosecutor. It is an agreement that outlines a punishment established by the prosecutor. If the defendant agrees, they are accepting the terms and conditions of the punishment that has been outlined for the crime committed.
Selecting the Best Criminal Defense Attorney
An individual will want to select a criminal defense attorney who can help them prepare for DUI arraignments and DUI trials. They should select a law office that is well-established, credible, and results-driven.
The attorneys at Sparks Law Firm specialize in DUI arrests. They can help an individual post bail, understand the arraignment stage, prepare for upcoming court dates, and more. Though they offer services in many practice areas, DWI and DUI cases are their specialty.
The Attorney-Client Relationship
Always protecting sensitive or confidential information, the criminal defense attorneys at this Fort Worth location treat the attorney-client relationship with the utmost regard. They offer a free no-obligation consultation for prospective clients. This allows the attorney and client to meet to review the details of the case and discuss any questions or concerns. This free consultation allows an individual to seek quality legal representation without the added financial burden.
Customized Care and Support
Getting arrested for DUI can be scary. Not knowing what to expect following an arrest can seem overwhelming. The DUI arraignment process can be even scarier, especially for those who have never set foot in a courtroom before. Being in front of a judge and having to navigate the legal process can be nerve-wracking. The entire process can place a significant emotional, mental, and financial strain on the individual charged with DUI. This is why it's important to know everything with the help of a good lawyer, which includes finding out what is worse between a DUI and a DWI.
Also, if you are out of the country and you got into an accident due to intoxication, find out what happens if you get a DUI in another state.
Sparks Law Firm in Fort Worth can help alleviate some of the stress and concern associated with DUI charges. From the start, the firm's criminal defense attorneys provide the necessary guidance needed to navigate the legal process. They make it easy to understand what to expect and best prepare for the next steps. From the initial arrest to the arraignment and trial, the attorneys at Sparks Law Firm can help advocate for justice. Hundreds of satisfied customers in the Fort Worth area can confirm the firm's dedication and commitment to its clients.
For more information following a DUI arrest or to learn more about how to prepare for DUI arraignments, contact the Tarrant County DWI lawyers at Sparks Law firm today to schedule a free consultation, 817-381-7846.