DUI Arraignments

Phoenix Lawyer Representing Impaired Drivers

During DUI arraignments, Arizona prosecutors will file official documents charging defendants with committing certain criminal offenses. This important step in the criminal justice process occurs because defendants have a constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation. If you are concerned about an arraignment, you should discuss your case with Phoenix DUI attorney James Novak. As a former prosecutor, he leverages his insights about the thought process of the prosecution to build strong defenses for clients accused of crimes. Contact him immediately upon becoming aware of your criminal charges.

DUI Arraignments

In Arizona, prosecutors usually charge DUIs as misdemeanors. For misdemeanor DUIs, the initial appearance will also be an arraignment. During the arraignment, the prosecution will formally charge you with a crime and the court will verify you are the person against whom charges are being brought, let you know what the charges are, and the potential sentence. You will be allowed to enter a plea.

Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure 14.2 provides that if you’re in custody, an arraignment should not be held more than 10 days after the prosecutor has filed the complaint, information, or indictment. However, if you're not in custody for a DUI, an arraignment shouldn't be held later than 30 days after a complaint, information, or indictment is filed.

In some situations, the court cannot hold a DUI arraignment in the appropriate timeframe because you haven't been arrested or summoned, or because you're in custody in another jurisdiction. Under those circumstances, the court will hold the arraignment as soon as possible after the authorized timeframe.

What Happens at DUI Arraignments?

The court will advise you of your legal rights at the arraignment. These rights include the right to a jury trial and the right to have a lawyer present at future proceedings. While the initial appearance may be combined with an arraignment for a misdemeanor DUI, a separate arraignment will be held if you are charged with felony DUI. At that arraignment, the court can order you to undergo fingerprinting within 20 days. You will also be asked to enter a plea.

Defendants may enter three different types of pleas: guilty, not guilty, and no contest. A guilty plea specifies that you are admitting guilt and that you don't have a legal defense for the DUI. When you enter a guilty plea, you agree to accept the court’s sentencing and penalties. Because pleading guilty can have long-lasting consequences and may impact you far into the future, you should discuss your case with an experienced lawyer before entering a guilty plea. When you're charged with misdemeanor DUI and plead guilty, the court may immediately sentence you.

If you plead not guilty at an arraignment, you are asking the court for the opportunity to go to trial. This does not necessarily mean that you will actually go to trial on the DUI charges. Rather, it allows you to retain an attorney, who may then investigate the case and formulate the best strategy to defend you from these charges. Under certain circumstances, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea in the time between arraignment and trial.

You may also enter a no contest plea. In that case, you will accept sentencing without admitting guilt without mounting a defense to the charges. When you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI and plead no contest, the judge can set your sentencing for a future date.

Retain an Experienced Phoenix Attorney

You should retain a lawyer to defend you against DUI charges as soon as you realize charges are pending. Some people don't realize that DUI charges are criminal charges, not simply administrative ones. You can end up with a criminal record based upon a DUI conviction. Call experienced Phoenix attorney James E. Novak about the charges at (480) 413-1499. He represents clients in Phoenix, along with Gilbert, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County.

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