I was just charged with a DUI and I've never been charged with a crime before. What happens when I go to my first court date?
Court proceedings are not consistent. Each jurisdiction may have a unique process, which affects what will happen on the first court date. Generally, the initial court appearance is the arraignment, which is where actions are taken that will determine how the case will proceed.
A judge usually reads the charges against the accused. This should include all charges that have been filed in relation to this case. The supporting evidence may also be discussed and the accused may have the opportunity to request information from the prosecution.
After acknowledging that she understands the charges, the accused may be asked to plead. Before she does so, if the prosecution has a plea bargain offer, he may extend it at this time. If a not guilty plea is entered and the accused wants a jury trial, she may have to request it at this point.
If, for some reason, the individual was not released before this appearance, bail will be considered. The court may impose conditions on the individual's release and driving privileges, such as requiring her to have an alcohol assessment and to have an ignition interlock device installed on her vehicle.
Before being dismissed, the individual should be informed of her next court date and requested to sign a document that obligates her to appear.
Although guilt or innocence is not determined during the initial court appearance, it is still an important part of a DUI case. Decisions made on this occasion could affect the outcome and a person's future. For these reasons, an experienced attorney should be consulted in advance.