Your Loved One’s First Court Appearance: What To Know

Having a loved one who's been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can be an awful experience. It's normal for loved ones to feel anger, fear, and confusion about what is to happen next. When dealing with a stressful situation, it sometimes helps to take action. Read to find out about your loved one's first time before the judge — the arraignment.

What is an Arraignment?

While exact procedures can vary from place to place, arraignments are usually held a few hours after an arrest. Often, defendants who are arrested for DUI charges do not yet have an attorney to represent them and end up going it alone at the arraignment. Three main tasks are accomplished during this initial court appearance: bail is decided, a plea is entered, and legal representation is discussed. If you want to arrange bail for your loved one, you might as well wait until after the arraignment to do so since bail is usually set at this time. Some areas decide bail separately at a bail hearing, however. It should also be mentioned that if your loved one is denied bail or the bail is too high, you ought to contact a criminal defense attorney right away.

Bail is Decided

Both you and your loved one should be deeply interested in bail. Bail allows those arrested to be released from jail while awaiting a court date. Bail is both a promise to return for later court dates and a financial pledge. Not everyone is offered bail. If the DUI was aggravated (in other words, if the situation was more extreme due to things such as an excessive blood alcohol content or the presence of minors in the vehicle) or if your loved one has a criminal record, they may need to await their court dates in jail. If the bail is not affordable, contact a bail bonding agent and pay them a percentage of the bail to free your loved one.

A Plea is Entered

This part of the arraignment is when your loved one is read the charges and asked to enter a plea. Having to enter a plea when you probably have no idea of the consequences can be difficult. Since it's easier to change a not guilty plea to a guilty plea rather than the other way around, your loved one should plead not guilty.

Legal Representation is Discussed

If you have an attorney, now would be the time for your loved one to let the judge know about it. For those unable to afford a private attorney, the judge will appoint a public defender for your loved one.

If you have further questions about the arraignment, bail, and what happens next, speak to a DUI personal attorney.