The arraignment is the first court appearance you will make if the authorities charge you with a crime. Your arraignment will set the tone for the rest of your dealings with the court. Thus, if you are facing driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges, you need to prepare for your arraignment. Here are a few tips to help you do that.
Understand the Potential Consequences
The first thing is to understand what you are facing in case you get convicted. DWI consequences depend on various factors such as DWI history, blood alcohol content, and if there was an accident, among other aggravating or mitigating factors. For example, your risk of going to jail increases with the number of DWI convictions in your past.
Understand the Options
The main purpose of the arraignment is for the judge to read your charges and take your plea. You can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The no-contest plea means that you do not admit your guilt, but you do not deny it either. The no-contest plea has the same consequences as a guilty plea. However, it may not be available in all states.
Decide on the Plea
You also need to know beforehand which plea you intend to enter at the arraignment. Understand the consequences of all the possible pleas to help you make the decision. The judge is likely to enter a not-guilty plea if you don't enter a plea. While that might not be a terrible idea, it's best to enter a plea of your own volition.
In some states, it may be possible to avoid a trial by admitting to reduced charges. The prosecution then doesn't have to spend resources prosecuting you and you get to enjoy mitigated charges and penalties. The prosecution is likely to approach you with a plea bargain offer before your arraignment. Prepare yourself for negotiations so that you can get the best possible deal from the prosecutor.
Clear Your Schedule
You don't want to miss your arraignment even if you are the busiest person in the country. Missing your arraignment will attract the court's disdain. The judge will issue a warrant for your arrest if you don't make your court appearance. You also risk being denied bail in the future. Therefore, clear your schedule so that you can make it to your arraignment.
Prepare Your Court Demeanor
Lastly, you should also prepare your appearance on the court date. Ideally, your dressing, grooming, speech, and even facial expression should convey honesty and respect. That is why most lawyers will advise you to dress smartly but conservatively.
Talk to a DWI defense attorney for additional information.