If you have been arrested for suspicion of DUI then chances are, you received a citation from the arresting officer with a date. This date is your arraignment date, and you must appear on or before that date in the Court specified. This will start your legal case.
Oftentimes when you appear in court on that date, you will find that the Prosecutor has not filed your case. This does not necessarily mean that they have dismissed the charges against you. The Prosecutor has a year to file the charges and bring a case against you, and it may be that they have not gotten around to doing it yet due to the overwhelming caseload. If that is the case, they will give you written proof that you upheld you obligation and appeared in court and they will then mail you out a letter giving you a new date. In some instances, the case may have been dismissed and the Prosecutor may have decided not to bring charges.
When, and if, you appear in Court, thatsfirst hearing is referred to as the Arraignment. At the arraignment, the Judge will inform you of your rights, the charges against you, the potential sentence and will ask if you would like to enter a plea.
One way to conclude your case is to enter a plea of guilty or no contest. You can enter a plea at any time in the proceedings, whether it is at the first hearing, or at the pre-trial, or thereafter. You always have that option. Once a plea of guilty is entered, your case is concluded and you no longer have any obligations to appear in Court. You must, however, complete your probationary obligations, including completing any classes ordered and paying any fines. If you do not complete these obligations, you may be summoned back to court for a probation violation.
The second way to conclude a criminal case is through Trial and the jury determining a verdict. If you enter a plea of not guilty, then you will go through the legal system and through all of the different phases of trial. Starting with the arraignment, you will go to pre-trial, the preliminary hearing, the jury selection and so forth and so on. As stated, at any point in these proceedings you may enter a plea of guilty. Otherwise, the legal process will grant you your right to trial and you will have the opportunity to be heard by the court and to put on any and all evidence and testimony that you wish. At the end of the trial, the jury will make a finding. Once the process is completed, and a verdict is entered, then your case is completed .
The legal process is a complex one. Entering a plea is a significant decision and one that should be made with the proper advice and guidance. If you find yourself charged with a DUI, it is very important to consult with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer who can provide you with the professional expertise you need.