Several things will happen when you are charged with a Los Angeles DUI and have to make your first appearance in court. This first appearance will be stated on the citation you receive, and will state the date and time of your appearance, as well as the Courthouse. This appearance is referred to as an Arraignment. Several things will happen on this first hearing.
- Reading of rights
At this first hearing, the Judge will read you your rights. You will earn exactly what you are being charged with, and what the highest potential sentence may be. You have a right to know the charges against you, the code section under which they fall and the extent of the possible sentence that can be imposed. In addition, you have a right to be aware of any and all rights that you possess, including the right to an attorney, a right to a jury trial and other important constitutional rights.
- Enter a Plea
You have the opportunity to enter a plea in the court of law. This plea can be of guilty, not guilty or no contest. Many people mistakenly believe that the proper plea is not guilty, however, in certain situations it might be appropriate. In order to make a determination, you must consider all possible arguments, defenses, the facts, and what the outcome of trial may be. It is not always apparent which way to plea, it is often the advice of a legal professional that can properly guide a person to make a determination as to what the best route may be.
- Plea Bargain
The prosecutor will also offer the person being charged a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer for a lesser charge or sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Sometimes a plea bargain is recommended and is a good idea for the person to agree to. In certain situations, it is not a good idea and it makes more sense for the person to hold off and plead not guilty. This, like entering a plea in general, is something that needs to be analyzed carefully. Possible facts, defenses and arguments needs to be considered. This is best done through the guidance of a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer. A legal professional has the experience and knowledge to be able to distinguish what a good plea bargain is, and when it should be refused. In addition, when you are familiar with the prosecutors, Judges and clerks, it helps make the right decision.
As stated earlier, you have the right to an attorney. If you do not have one at the Arraignment, the court will allow for a brief thirty day continuance for you to find one. If you wish to find an attorney, then it is highly recommended that you take a continuance and retain counsel.
At the arraignment, you will also be handed discovery. Discovery is any evidence the prosecutor wishes to use in Court. This discovery can be useful in determining is a plea bargain should be accepted, or if a plea should be entered.