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Marin County Arraignments:

One of the most common concerns I hear from new client’s is about the first court date. The first court date for any Criminal case, including DUI’s, is called the arraignment. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, your attorney can appear for you. If you are charged with a felony, you will need to be there even if you have counsel.

An arraignment is a hearing where you are informed of the charges against you, giving a copy of the pleading and allowed an opportunity to enter a plea.  In regards to misdemeanor DUI cases, it can be a pretty informal hearing where not too much negotiation occurs. The reason for this is that most of the crucial evidence has not been received by your DUI lawyer yet. This evidence includes the calibration records of the breathalyzer machine, and audio/video evidence of the incident.  There are multiple issues however that your DUI Attorney needs to understand at the arraignment.

(1)   A demurrer is where the defense asks the court to dismiss the charge for reasons specified in Penal Code 1004. The proper procedure is for the defense to demur to the complaint. By law, a demurrer must be entered before entry of a plea. If a plea is entered first, the demurrer is deemed waived.  The decision on whether to demur or enter a plea is made at the arraignment.

(2)   If the client is in custody, the arraignment becomes an extremely crucial court date, because it provides the defense attorney the opportunity to ask the court to release the defendant or reduce bail. If the client is in custody, the district attorney has 48 hours to show probable cause to prosecute according to Penal Code 991. A Penal Code 991 motion should be made at the arraignment as well. See County of Riverside v. McGlaughlin (1991) 500 U.S. 44

(3)   You have the right to a speedy trial. If you are in-custody, you have the right to a jury trial within 30 days of the arraignment. If you are out-of-custody, it is 45 days. The decision to waive time is made at the arraignment. Most misdemeanor, out-of-custody defendants waive time, especially if the defense needs extra time to prepare. You can always withdraw your “time waiver” at any time as well.

(4)   If your DUI Lawyer plans on contesting search and seizures issues through a Motion To Suppress Evidence, it should be filed within 45 days of the arraignment date. If it is, and the motion is lost, it allows you to appeal the decision immediately. If the motion is filed outside of 45 days of the arraignment, you may only appeal after a conviction.

(5)   Your Criminal Defense Attorney should serve the district attorney with an informal request for discovery at the arraignment, as well as obtain the prosecutors contact information.

For most DUI defendants, they will not be present at the arraignment. There are multiple issues that occur, but they are nothing that a competent DUI lawyer has not handled before.  Contact Marin County DUI Lawyer Michael Rehm for a free, confidential consultation at (415) 215-1680.


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