In many cases, loved ones don't know where to turn after the dreaded phone call comes from the jail. Just knowing that a friend or family member is behind bars and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is difficult to deal with. Knowing what to do first to help them get out of jail is foremost, so read on to find out more.
Time for the Arraignment
Though things can be done differently in some places, an arraignment or bail hearing is likely the first thing that happens to your loved one after an arrest. The timing of the appearance varies but with DUI defendants, they may impose a 48 hour (or less) wait upon them to allow time for some sobering up. You can often, however, find out more about the charges and bail costs by phoning the jail. An arraignment consists of the following actions:
- A plea is entered. Your loved one can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Most defense experts advise defendants to plead not guilty at the arraignment.
- Bail is decided. Unless bail has already been set, the judge will attend to the bail issue during the arraignment. Defendants can be released without bail if they do so under their own recognizance. That is the same thing as bail as far as the conditions go but at no cost to the defendant. They might also be denied bail if the offense is serious enough. With a DUI, almost all are charged as a misdemeanor and are eligible for bail. However, felony charges and no bail are a possibility if the defendant was in an accident and injuries or a death occurred.
- Legal representation is discussed. Your loved one will undoubtedly need an attorney to help them with their DUI case. Many of those standing before the judge at the arraignment don't have legal representation at that time. However, they can, and should, speak to a criminal defense attorney who practices DUI law as soon as possible after they obtain their freedom from jail.
Hiring a Lawyer
It's best to use local lawyers unless the defendant already has a lawyer from out of town. Local lawyers are familiar with the judges and the prosecutor and can do a good job of advising defendants on what to expect with an upcoming case. In many cases, a plea bargain will be presented to your loved one at some point and a lawyer is needed to help them make this very important decision. If they accept the deal, there will be no trial by jury but only a hearing. To learn more, speak to a local criminal defense lawyer about the case.