If you have been charged with DUI in Georgia, you need an attorney from the very beginning of your case to present the strongest possible legal defense. Preferably, you should even have a lawyer representing you at a DUI arraignment hearing.
Moffitt Law, LLC should be your first call after you have been arrested for suspicion of DUI in Carrollton, GA. Contact our experienced Carrollton DUI attorneys today to schedule your free initial consultation.
The Role of the Arraignment and the Process
An arraignment is the court proceeding where you are informed of the charges against you and are given the opportunity to enter your plea. It marks the beginning of the criminal justice process, and it usually happens shortly after your arrest. Until the arraignment, you have not formally been charged with a crime.
Here is the typical process of a DUI arraignment:
- You are formally informed of the exact charges against you, and you are given a copy of the indictment (these are just the charges at the time of the arraignment – the prosecutor could also increase the charges, such as when an accident victim dies of their injuries later)
- The court asks you to enter a plea (which should always be not guilty at first to give your lawyer the ability to do their job)
- Bail may be set in your case if it is necessary, along with any conditions of your release
- You are advised of your rights as a criminal defendant
An Arraignment Is Usually Your First Appearance in Front of the Judge
When you are being arraigned in a DUI case, it will be the first time when you hear the charges that were filed against you. Georgia has numerous ways that the prosecution can charge DUI based on the blood alcohol content and whether it is your first offense. You could even find yourself facing a more serious charge than you anticipated in your case.
The judge would then ask you for your plea in the case, and they would explain your legal rights. If you do not have a lawyer at the time of the arraignment, the judge would ask you whether you intend to hire a private attorney or if you want to have the court appoint an attorney to represent you.
The arraignment could be your first and only court appearance in the DUI process. However, that would mean that you are pleading and would be sentenced on the spot. That is not always the best idea because you are giving away the ability to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor.
In addition, your attorney would not be able to investigate your case to see if there is any opening to fight the charges (either because your rights were violated or because there is a lack of evidence against you).
You Do Not Always Have to Be Present
You may have the option to waive your appearance at a DUI arraignment in Georgia. This does not mean that you are not doing anything in your defense. Your attorney could file the motions with the court that they would otherwise file at your arraignment. Everything depends on your attorney and the legal advice that they give you.
Do I Need a Lawyer at My DUI Arraignment?
While there is no legal requirement to have a lawyer at an arraignment, It is generally a good idea to have an attorney any time you are in court in front of a judge. Both the prosecutor and the judge are sizing you up and forming their opinion on you.
In addition, you do not want to make a mistake that could complicate your defense going forward. When you have a lawyer at your arraignment, they will handle all the speaking except for the part when you need to enter your plea.
The arraignment is not necessarily a formality. There is the possibility that there may be substantive matters addressed. It is also your first time to see the judge and to get a sense of how they may view your case. Do not make the mistake of thinking that an arraignment is something minor.
In a DUI case, there is little chance that you would be taken into custody at the arraignment, However, the judge could set very strict conditions on your release that could significantly impact your life. You may need your lawyer to present your side if the pretrial conditions are being decided at the arraignment. Otherwise, you could be stuck with very restrictive terms until the time your case is resolved.
How Your Arraignment Fits Into the Rest of the Legal Process
You may have made your first appearance in a municipal court. If you did not resolve your case, then it would be forwarded to a Superior or State court. Your first appearance in a Superior or State court would be your arraignment.
The arraignment is generally the beginning of your DUI defense process. You may have subsequent court appearances after the arraignment if you choose to go forward with your case.
You could have a sentencing hearing in court if you eventually agreed to a plea deal. If you proceeded to fight the charges, you would go through the entire legal process, including a possible preliminary hearing and a trial.
After the arraignment, your attorney would then work with you on the best legal strategy for your case, whether it is negotiating a plea deal or fighting the charges.
Contact a Georgia DUI Attorney Today
You should have a lawyer by the time you have a DUI arraignment hearing. Moffitt Law, LLC represents Georgia residents who have been charged with DUI, working to help get you the best possible legal outcome in your case. We are available to discuss your case in a free initial consultation. We are well-established in the local community with a track record of getting results for our clients. To schedule a time to speak with an attorney, you can send us a message online, or you can call us today at 762-200-2924.