A Florida DUI typically involves two separate legal actions. A driver license suspension by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is determined through the administrative law process, while the DUI charge is prosecuted by the state attorney through the criminal justice system. A DUI arraignment is one of the initial court proceedings in the criminal case. If you have been arrested for drunk or drugged driving, our Jacksonville DUI lawyers can represent you at your arraignment. At Ellis and Bryant, we have the skill to defend your interests at all stages of the case, including DUI arraignments.Overview of DUI Arraignments in Florida
When a person is accused of a crime, they have the right to know of the charges against them. An arraignment is a court proceeding at which the defendant is formally advised of the criminal offenses they have been charged with. At a DUI arraignment, the prosecution will provide the specific DUI offense brought against the defendant. For example, the judge may inform the defendant that the prosecution has formally filed charges for a first-time DUI, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, aggravated DUI, or DUI with a minor in the vehicle, among other offenses. This allows the defendant to understand the severity of the offense and the potential penalties if convicted. The defendant will have the opportunity at a DUI arraignment to enter a plea to the charges.Entering a Plea at DUI Arraignments
Following a DUI arrest, the arraignment is one of the first opportunities you have to defend against the charges. There are three possible responses when entering a plea to a DUI charge:
“Not guilty” means that you formally deny that you committed the DUI offense charged against you. You may also request a trial before a judge or a jury. After entering a not guilty plea, the defense will have time to investigate the facts and evidence, engage in the discovery process, and/or negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution.
“Guilty” means that you admit to the court that you are guilty of the crime charged by the state. When you plead guilty to a DUI offense, you may be subject to criminal sentencing immediately. It is important that you understand the potential consequences before entering a guilty plea at a DUI arraignment, particularly if you do not have an attorney.
“No contest” means that you are not going to fight the DUI charge. No contest pleas often arise in cases involving a DUI plea bargain. In Florida, pleading no contest to a DUI will be viewed as prior conviction for purposes of a subsequent charge.Representation at DUI Arraignments
A DUI arraignment is typically scheduled several weeks after an arrest. If you do not have a lawyer at the time of the arraignment, you can still hire one afterward. However, you must attend the DUI arraignment in person, on the date that it is scheduled. Failing to appear in court for an arraignment may result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
If you have retained legal representation at that point, a notice of appearance filed by counsel will excuse you from attending a DUI arraignment in most circumstances. Your defense attorney can appear at the arraignment on your behalf and enter your plea, or the arraignment may be waived or rescheduled for a later date.Contact a Lawyer in Jacksonville
If you have been arrested for a DUI, an attorney can protect your rights and represent you at the arraignment. At Ellis and Bryant, our experienced lawyers can answer any questions you may have about the process. We handle DUI arraignments in Jacksonville, Middleburg, Orange Park, and many other locations in Duval and Clay Counties. Request a free initial consultation to discuss your DUI arrest or drug charge by calling (904) 551-4120 or contacting Ellis and Bryant online.