Preparing for a DUI arraignment can get your DUI defense off on the right foot and help you avoid life-changing mistakes.
Many people misunderstand the purpose of DUI arraignment. It is not when you argue against your charges.
Instead, it is the date where you will find out what your charges are, what your rights are and allows you to enter a plea of ‘not guilty’, ‘guilty’ or ‘no contest’.
What is a DUI Arraignment?
An arraignment is the formal court process where a defendant can enter a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. It is sometimes referred to as an Advisory Hearing. You’ll also learn the details of your charge and be informed of your rights.
This is the very first part of the DUI defense process. If you’ve hired a criminal defense lawyer, you may not need to be present at the arraignment.
Your DUI defense lawyer can send the court a ‘Notice of Appearance’ which can allow them to file a plea on your behalf, without your presence. They can also request a jury trial, but this is unusual for first-time DUI charges which can be dealt with quickly with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Read Related: The Top 10 DUI Myths
How to Prepare for Your DUI Arraignment
Deciding on Your Plea
When preparing for your DUI arraignment in Florida, you must decide if you want to plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.
It’s usually highly advised that you plead ‘not guilty’. However, under some circumstances, it may be advised which is always why you should consult a Florida DUI defense attorney first.
Think Twice Before Pleading Guilty
Pleading guilty can be a disastrous mistake as it cannot be undone. If you plead guilty, or ‘no contest’, the judge will sentence you. With that comes the penalties of a DUI conviction and a criminal record.
Even if you think you made a mistake and were drunk driving, there may still be hope. We regularly see cases thrown out because the arrest was unlawful or there was a problem with the equipment or breath test instructions.
Pleading Not Guilty
If you plead ‘not guilty’, the judge will schedule a date for a ‘Pretrial Hearing’. Pleading not guilty gives you the right to fight your charges. By pleading not guilty at this early stage, you gain the chance to talk to your lawyer and build a solid defense packed with evidence.
The judge will also inform you whether you need to post bail or not.
Hire a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer
If you haven’t already, now is the time to contact an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer.
An attorney can guide you through the DUI arraignment process, request the handover of documentation during the discovery process, gather evidence and fight a strong defense on your behalf.
Showing that you are taking things seriously can go a long way. By dressing smartly, you are seen as responsible and ready to take control of your habits. Of course, a lot more work is required than just a suit, but it can build a sense that you’re not an irresponsible person.
Know How to Speak to a Judge
If you do attend your arraignment, you’ll want to address the judge properly. Getting on their good side early can only help. Addressing them as ‘your honor’ and showing respect throughout and showing that you know how to conduct yourself.
Listen to Your Attorney’s Advice
Some people hire a criminal defense attorney to let them take care of the legal matters and forget the rest. But the truth is, your attorney can offer advice to protect your future. They want you to get the best outcome.
If your attorney, for example, advises you to join an alcoholics or addiction support group, then it is because they know the difference it can make in your life. They may also recognize that it’s impossible to clear your name entirely, but lowering your charge to a Reckless Driving charge is the best outcome.
You should also avoid arguing with your lawyer in front of the judge. That will just make you look disrespectful to the legal system. Prepare for your DUI arraignment by getting any questions and concerns out of the way in advance.
DUI Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Pinellas County, our DUI defense lawyers can help you prepare for the DUI arraignment and provide an aggressive defense. We regularly help people like you to get their charges dropped or penalties reduced.
Our Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., are part of one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms. We have the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300