When you have been stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, you have not yet been convicted. Chances are you were arrested, and charged under California Vehicle Code §23152 or 23153. These are the California DUI statutes. You have yet to be found guilty of these charges before you can be convicted.
At the time of arrest you will be given a citation. This citation will state the date of your first court appearance and the courthouse at which you must appear. This is not optional, there is no mail in plea option, it is mandatory. Failure to appear at this court date or prior to that court date can result in a warrant out for your arrest and additional charges or sentences. It is a good idea to be present in court the day you are required to be. If you hire a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, that lawyer may appear on your behalf as long as it is not a felony. In most DUI cases, a lawyer is allowed to appear on behalf of the person being charged. This is a great benefit because it saves you the time, hassle and trouble. It is a very anxiety provoking event and most people would rather not have to address it or deal with it.
That first date on your citation is called an Arraignment. At the arraignment you will be read your rights, potential sentences against you, the charges and you will be asked if you would like to enter a plea. You will also have the opportunity to speak to a prosecutor who will give you a plea bargain, or an offer as an incentive for you to plead guilty and resolve your case right then and there.
Before entering any type of plea or accepting a plea bargain it is a good idea and highly recommended that you speak to a legal professional who has over thirty years of experience. Their input is very beneficial to determining if the plea bargain is a good offer, whether there are any strong defenses or arguments available to you, or if your case is a weak one.
If after speaking to a professional you determine that your case is strong and the offer made by prosecutors is not a good one, it is likely that you would enter a plea of not guilty and the court will set the case for pre trial. At Pre Trial, you, or the lawyer you have on your behalf will negotiate and talk to the prosecutors. The initial plea bargain given at the arraignment will no longer be available, but based upon thorough discussion of cases and facts, the offer at the pre trial might be much better.
If you are not familiar with the courthouses, the Judges or the law, you will not know if the offer being made is a good one, or if it is a weak one. You will not know whether you should take your chances at Pre Trial or accept what is offered at the Arraignment. Therefore, do not hesitate! Consult with an expert right away!