Following an arrest for DWI, the defendant must appear in court for an arraignment. During the appearance, the person is formally charged with the offense and given a chance to respond. Read further to learn what happens at an arraignment and to learn how to deal with charges and plea bargaining.
The Arraignment: What Happens
At the arraignment, the defendant is asked whether they wish to enter a plea of not guilty or guilty. During the appearance, a lawyer may be appointed and bail may be set. Most defendants facing misdemeanor charges and those who haven’t posted bail are released on their own recognizance at this time.
In most instances, having an attorney at the arraignment is not necessary. At this point in the process, the defendant only enters a plea, which can be changed later. Most areas allow a person to request a jury trial unless they waive the right. However, a person with prior DWI convictions should deny them so the attorney can contest their validity at a later time.
The Defendant’s Options
After one is released from jail, they should call a DWI lawyer in Charleston to schedule a free consultation. Most people have the following options:
• Pleading guilty to the charges
• Plea bargaining down to a lower charge such as reckless driving
• Asking for a trial in front of a judge
• Requesting a jury trial
A lawyer can help a defendant find the right option for his or her situation.
Should a Defendant Fight Charges?
In most instances, the higher the likelihood of a guilty verdict, the more motivated a defendant should be to discuss a settlement or a plea bargain. A person with a BAC over .12 has a low chance of winning a trial, and a lawyer would be forced to call the blood, breath and field sobriety test results into question.
Hiring an Attorney
Whether one wants a plea bargain or they want to go to trial, a defendant should have a DWI Lawyer in Charleston on his or her side. If a defendant cannot afford an attorney, they can ask the arraignment judge to appoint one. However, hiring a private defense lawyer is the best choice in most cases.