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When you were arrested, the police officer gave you a pink piece of paper called a citation. The citation has the DUI arraignment date. This is the first date you must go to court. Please note: if you miss your court date, the judge will almost certainly issue a warrant for your arrest, and the police will arrest you!
The first time you go to court is NOT the day you will have your trial. In fact, if you are represented by a lawyer, you will very likely not< even speak at all, and the police officer who arrested you will not even be there. The arraignment serves three primary functions:
First, it gives the judge the first chance to read the paperwork that the prosecutor has filed against you. The judge will determine whether there is probable cause to bring the charge in the first place. At this stage, the judge must act as if everything in the police report is true; you are not allowed to testify at the arraignment or in any way give your side of the story.
Second, the judge will decide whether to impose court ordered restrictions or bail on you. Most of the time, the judge will impose no bail, but will order that you come to court for all scheduled events and let the court and your lawyer know how to reach you (address, phone number),
Third, the judge will explain your rights to you and ask what your plea is. Your lawyer will almost always “waive” the reading of these rights. As for the plea, unless there are unique circumstances, you should plead “NOT GUILTY” at the arraignment. This is true even if you think the evidence against you is overwhelming, because (1) neither the judge nor the prosecutor will be offended or angry with a not guilty plea, and (2) there may be hope for a less serious result or, if the police violated your rights, a resolution that results in a dismissal of the charge.
If you have a lawyer, the odds are that you will not even speak at your arraignment because your lawyer will do all the talking.
Contact Kenney & Henchen or call us: (802) 871-5638. We can help.