I often get asked, “Is the first court date my trial?”
A defendant’s first court appearance, the court date given when released from jail or on a citation given by the officer, generally, is the arraignment. The arraignment is where a defendant must be given an opportunity to enter a plea. The arraignment is not a court trial, jury trial, or the place to argue the case, nor the facts of the case, or offer explanations, or defenses. An arraignment is a court hearing at which an individual accused of a public offense—an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony—is informed of the nature of the charge or charges, given a copy of the accusatory pleading, and given an opportunity to enter a plea.
There are several plea options available at arraignment. The available pleas are guilty, nolo contendre (no contest), or not guilty. In many instances a plea may not be entered at all at the first appearance arraignment, rather the arraignment is continued to a future date. There are many tactical and strategic reasons to continue an arraignment. These reasons can vary, and are often dictated by factors, or circumstances on case by case basis.
If you were facing a DUI arraignment would you want the entire case heard at this very first court appearance?
In many cases a Santa Barbara DUI attorney will appear at the arraignment on behalf of the defendant charged with a misdemeanor DUI, without the defendant’s presence in court. In other words the accused of a Santa Barbara DUI, generally need not appear at the arraignment, and may appear by counsel as provided in California Penal Code §977, this is also known as a waiver of appearance. This does not weigh against the defendant, while it affords an opportunity to those defendants to be a work or school, rather than spend a day at court.
If you were facing an arraignment for a DUI would you prefer to waive your appearance and have your attorney appear on your behalf?
If you are facing a Santa Barbara DUI, or have an arraignment approaching, contact the Law Office of Kenneth M. Hallum for a free consultation. Know your rights, options, and defenses.