After your Georgia DUI arrest, you will need to attend a hearing called an "arraignment" as part of the criminal process. It is important to have an attorney present at this hearing as decisions about your bail, your plea, and your future will be made there.
The arraignment is an important part of your criminal defense. An experienced Georgia DUI attorney can represent you at this critical stage of your case.
If, after your arrest, you have not already been bailed out of jail, the agency that arrested you is required to bring you before a magistrate or judge within 48 hours of your warrantless arrest. At an initial appearance, the judge will:
- Read your charges,
- Inform you of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney, and
- Set further proceedings.
If you exercise your right to counsel at the initial appearance, the judge does not have to provide you with an attorney immediately. However, without a requested attorney, the judge cannot take a plea or initiate other "critical stages."
Probable Cause Determination
If you were arrested without a warrant, which is very common in DUI arrests, one of the purposes of the initial hearing will be to make a probable cause determination. This is a determination of whether there was a valid basis for your arrest. The arresting officer will likely give testimony, and the judge will consider any police reports.
Getting Out on Bail
At your initial hearing, or at your arraignment, bail will be set to let you out of prison (in most cases). The amount of your bail is based on a variety of determinations the judge or magistrate must consider. Arguments can be made on your behalf that would justify a lower bond, which saves you money out of pocket. An experienced Georgia DUI defense attorney can help keep your wallet intact.
Entering a Plea
Once you are at the point where you can enter your plea, you can proceed in several ways.
- If you choose to remain silent, a not-guilty plea will be entered on your behalf.
- You can plead not guilty, or have your attorney make the plea for you.
- Technically, you could plead guilty at this stage, but you should never do so. Just because you were arrested does not mean that you are guilty of a crime.
The entry of a not-guilty plea means that the case against you can now proceed and that you can fully defend your case. A plea can be changed later if, after consulting with your attorney, a change of plea is in your best interest.
Filing of Motions
Filing the right motions throughout your criminal case is essential to your defense. Part of this is the discovery process, which is an exchange of the evidence the prosecutor intends to use against you. Your DUI attorney can use this information to formulate your defense or to file additional motions, such as a suppression motion.
Consult a Georgia DUI Attorney
Every part of your case is important, but getting it right in the beginning is crucial to protecting your constitutional rights. Without proper representation, you may accidentally waive motions and arguments which could prevent your conviction.