Preparing for your first court appearance after you have been arrested for a DUI in Washington can be a daunting and stressful experience, especially if this is your first time going through the process. To make the best of it, an experienced DUI attorney is always recommended to guide you through court proceedings and piece together a strong criminal defense case; yet even with an attorney by your side, it helps to be know what to expect following your arrest.
The arraignment is your first official court appearance after you have been arrested and booked. It is an opportunity for you to formally hear the charges against you by the judge. It is also an opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead anything other than “not guilty,” you do not progress to the next level of court proceedings. An arraignment is also the time when the judge decides whether or not to post bail.
Due to the nature of an arraignment and the fact that you will be in a courtroom, many think this is a good time to defend themselves, yet this is not what takes place. An arraignment is in no way a trial; it is the first step toward a trial. If you plead “not guilty” at your arraignment, you can move on to preliminary hearings and eventually a trial. The police officer who arrested you does not need to show up at your arraignment, and neither does the party who has been harmed (if any). You may not even need to speak with a DUI lawyer present.
From the perspective of one who has been accused of DUI, the most important part of the arraignment is finding out whether or not the judge decides to post bail, and if so, how much. Without bail, you may stay in jail for as long as it takes to resolve the case or until a new bond application is made for the judge to reconsider posting bond or reducing the amount.
How to Prepare for the Arraignment
Attending court should be treated as showing up for a cross between a job interview, a house of worship, and a medical appointment. You will want to be on time, so arrive at least half an hour early to any court appearance. This should be enough time to find proper parking and make it to the courtroom on time or a few minutes early.
You will want to dress as if you are going to a job interview or a house of worship. Men and women should dress professionally but comfortably. Expect to wear dress shoes and maintain a clean, polished look at all times. Any piercings and tattoos should be removed and/ or concealed. You should not wear headgear (hats, bandanas, ornamental hair accessories) and any jewelry should be conservative and kept to a minimum. The same goes for any use of cosmetics.
A Washington DUI defense attorney like Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. can provide specific details about your court appearance after reviewing your case. Call 253-312-6122 for a free legal consultation at any time, any day.