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First court appearance for DUI charge. What should I expect at this court hearing for DUI in CA?

Pasadena, CA |

I was recently arrested for a DUI and was released the following morning and advised I would need to appear in court at the end of October. What will this first appearance consist of? Will I be given to the option to be provided with a public defender or do I need to have that done before this appearance?

Will a second appearance in court for DUI be scheduled if I choose to have either a public defender or private one at that time? What exactly will this first appearance consist of?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. If you qualify, the California court will usually give you court appointed counsel. Before that time, you want to make sure a request for a DMV hearing is made within 10 days of the arrest, and this includes weekends. You can get a free consultation with a DUI lawyer in your area who will answer all of your above questions and more. Your more experienced DUI lawyers will be the ones who are members of the NCDD and CDLA.

    In most jurisdictions you are not able to get representation from the public defender or court appointed counsel until the first court date when the Court decides if you qualify. Often you will still have to pay some type of fee.

    The first court date is usually to enter a plea of not guilty and set a new court date. This gives your attorney time to gather discovery and start fighting your case. You can usually ask a Judge for more time to get a lawyer at that first court date and not enter a plea yet. However, you should check out the way the local court in your CA county does things and the best way is to get that free consultation with an experienced DUI lawyer.

    In most jurisdictions you are not able to get representation from the public defender or court appointed counsel until the first court date when the Court decides if you qualify. Often you will still have to pay some type of fee.

    The first court date is usually to enter a plea of not guilty and set a new court date. This gives your attorney time to gather discovery and start fighting your case. You can usually ask a Judge for more time to get a lawyer at that first court date and not enter a plea yet. However, you should check out the way the local court does things and the best way is to get that free consultation with an experienced DUI lawyer.


  2. Your first appearance in court after your DUI arrest is your arraignment. The purpose of that court appearance is to make sure that you are informed of the nature of the charges against you, and it also gives you the fair opportunity to plead to the charges.

    In a misdemeanor case, your trial may be set no more than 45 calendar days after the arraignment. You will also be informed of other rights such as rights against self-incrimination, confrontation, and right to counsel.

    If you appear at your DUI court appearance without counsel, the court may delay entry of your plea until after you appear with an attorney. Or the court may determine whether to appoint counsel for you. The judge may hold a hearing to find out if you have the means, such as real estate, that can be attached by the county to reimburse it for legal assistance. The court will tell you that you may be required to reimburse the county for court-appointed legal services.

    After the arraignment, your attorney can ask the court to set the appropriate pretrial conferences for plea negotiations and discovery compliance.


  3. This is the very first court appearance the accused will have and it is the process by which a person is brought before a court to hear and answer criminal charges against the accused. If the accused is out of custody, he or she must be on time no matter what. The defendant should definitely have a criminal defense lawyer with them.
    Six things occur at arraignment:
    1.) Defendant is advised of his or her constitutional rights.
    2.) Counsel is appointed.
    3.) The charges are read to defendant, and a copy of the complaint is provided.
    4.) Defendant is invited to enter a plea to the charges.
    5.) Bail is determined, which may be different than the presumptive bail amount, or defendant may be released on his or her own recognizance.
    6.) A date for the defendant's next court appearance is set.

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