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In short, an arraignment is the initial appearance that a person makes in a criminal case. This is where you are given the charges in your case, you enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest, and (in appropriate cases) your bail is set. In some of the courts, I will go in and continue the arraignment in order to review the discovery with my client and determine what our best strategy will be moving forward. Hence, your arraignment is a critical stage in the proceedings and you should have your DUI defense attorney by your side or at least there in you stead.
Many times the prosecutors are available to negotiate with your defense attorney at the arraignment and can be convinced to give the client a release on their own recognizance (meaning no bail will have to be posted in order to remain free from custody). In some DUI courts, the judges are ordering the defendants to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in order to be released on their own recognizance (this usually occurs when the person has a high blood alcohol reading, has prior DUI’s or got in an accident).
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, I will not have my clients come to court unless it is absolutely necessary. This gives me the chance to meet with the prosecutor one on one and see exactly how they feel about the case and what they are willing to do to settle it. This gives the client an opportunity to work and not waste time and money and the prosecutors and judge do not hold it against them, because they know the person hired a private attorney to handle their matter and are taking the case seriously.
Some clients foolishly wait until after their arraignment to hire their attorney, under the mistaken belief that the arraignment is not a very important part of the case. In my opinion, you want your DUI defense attorney on the case as soon as possible in order to start your case moving in the right direction. I have seen many situations where clients lose valuable rights and have charges added to their case because they did not have an attorney who knows about them and their situation right from the beginning of the case. It makes no sense to me that people would take chances with their driving record, criminal record, reputation and freedom on the line.
Hence it should be clear to you now that the arraignment is the beginning of your DUI case and it should be handled with care and professionalism. The best DUI defense attorneys use the arraignment as an opportunity to let the prosecutor know their client’s side of the story and start shaping the case in a light most favorable to their client and their client’s interests.
How soon is the arraignment after a person is arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles? When someone is arrested for a DUI in LA county they must be brought to court within seventy two hours of their arrest. If for some reason this is not possible or if the court does not file the case fast enough, then the authorities must let them go. This time can be extended if they are arrested on a weekend or holiday. Further, once they post bail in the case, then they will be released and their appearance in court will usually be set approximately thirty days away, depending on how busy the courthouse is that has their case.
Once the person is in court, then the police must give the arrest report and all available evidence to the prosecutors for them to file the case. If the prosecutors do not receive the necessary paperwork to file the case, then the case can be continued for further investigation while the police try and get their act together. Sometimes, the prosecutors do not believe that there is enough evidence to file a case against a particular defendant and will end up rejecting the case. If this happens them the person will be free from any action on the part of the courts. However, they will still have the arrest record that will remain.
Defending a DUI case in Los Angeles can be tricky and should be treated in a serious manner by an attorney who has been down the road you are about to travel. I always tell my clients who have been unlucky enough to have been arrested for a DUI to do it once, do it right and never do it again!