When you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, you will be given a court date to appear before a Criminal Judge. The law presumes that you are innocent until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and it will be the Prosecutor’s job to prove that you were intoxicated while driving.
The first appearance made before the Criminal Judge is called an Arraignment. During the arraignment the Judge will read you the charges and will ask if you would like to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be read a DUI Advisement of Rights, Waiver and Plea form. You must read this form carefully and initial each statement.
In the form, there is an explanation as to your Right to an attorney. It explains that you have a right to an attorney to represent you throughout the proceedings. This is a right granted to you by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This right ensures that each person is protected and properly represented before the Judge when they are being tried for criminal charges. It helps avoid any wrongful judgments being entered because the person being tried improperly handled their case or proceedings.
It is a right that is taken very seriously, and therefore must be read to the person standing before the Judge and they must fully indicate that they understand they are giving up this right.
If a person cannot afford an attorney, an attorney will be appointed to them. Public Defenders working in the courthouse help represent clients who cannot afford to hire a private defense attorney. However, public defenders have a high volume of cases and can only do their best in giving the attention necessary to each one. A private attorney does not have to take every case that comes into their office, they may take on only the amount of cases they can competently handle and provide the best possible representation for.
The DUI Advisement of Rights, Waiver and Plea form also explains that if the person is giving up their right to an attorney and is pleading guilty or no contest, they understand that there “are dangers and disadvantages to giving up [their] right to an attorney, and that it is almost always unwise to represent [themselves]”.
This statement is very accurate. Entering a plea before retaining or even consulting with a criminal defense attorney may take away your constitutionally protected rights. A knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer has handled thousands of DUI cases and will be able to tell you if entering a guilty or no contest plea is the best option for you. There are many available defenses as well as negotiations that may reduce your penalties or possibly even help dismiss your case.