The first in-Court hearing in misdemeanor and felony cases is called an Arraignment. In felony cases, it is an “Arraignment on Complaint”. At this Arraignment, the Judge will inform the defendant (or their lawyer) of the charges against him/her and ask how the defendant wants to plead. DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY! If you plead guilty, you are waiving your right to to a jury trial, your right to cross-examine any witnesses, and to evaluate the sufficiency of any evidence against you. You should enter a “Not-Guilty” plea, or request a “continuance” of your “Arraignment Hearing” to obtain a DUI or Criminal Defense lawyer (depending on your case), if you did not hire one already. If you absolutely cannot afford the assistance of a private attorney, you should request the services of the Public Defender’s office. When doing so, however, consider your case and attention you feel your case deserves. Because of the high case load for many Public Defenders, they may not be able to provide the attention you may feel is necessary for proper representation. Either way, it is always a good idea to have a qualified DUI / Criminal Defense Lawyer with you at this hearing.
In felony cases, after the “Arraignment On Complaint”, the case is typically scheduled for Preliminary Hearing. After the Preliminary Hearing, assuming the Defendant is “held to answer” to the charges, a new Arraignment is set. This Arraignment is known as an “Arraignment on Information” and may include the same charges as existed at the Arraignment on Complaint, or it may include new charges in addition to the old ones. After this “Arraignment On Information”, the case is then ready to proceed into the Pre-Trial stage of proceedings.
Contact our office immediately to get a free consultation with a DUI / Criminal Defense Lawyer and see if we are available to appear at arraignment with you, or in your place.