If you were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you’ll be arraigned in a court of law. What is an arraignment and what should you do to protect your rights under Massachusetts law?
OUI Arraignment 101
The first courtroom appearance you’ll make following your impaired driving arrest is called the arraignment. A judge will formally charge you with one or more criminal violations and you’ll have an opportunity to plead. An arraignment takes place a few days after the arrest; any later and the Commonwealth runs the risk of violating the Constitutional right to a speedy trial.
What Will Happen at Your OUI Arraignment
At an OUI arraignment, several key pieces of information will be established, including:
- What the charges against you are. The judge will formally read all the charges against you.
- Whether you have an attorney to represent your interests. If you don’t have a lawyer or cannot afford one, the Commonwealth will appoint one to you.
- How you plead. You’ll need to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you do not enter a plea, the judge will enter a plea of not guilty for you.
- How much your bail is set for. Your attorney can negotiate a lower bail at this time if set too high.
- What the initial evidence is against you. You will be provided with copies of initial discovery documents, such as chemical test results and the police report.
- When your next court date is. Make sure you take note of your next court appearance. If you fail to appear, the judge could issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
How You Can Prepare for Your OUI Arraignment
There are several things you can do to prepare for your arraignment ahead of time, even if you don’t know exactly what will happen, such as:
- Decide how you will plead with the help of your attorney
- Arrive at the correct courtroom at least 15 minutes early
- Check in with the bailiff or court clerk as soon as you can
- Respond immediately when the judge calls your name
- Ask the judge to explain the charges against you if you don’t understand them (you’re not admitting guilt if you do this)
Make sure you dress professionally and avoid wearing too much cologne or makeup.
Do You Need to Call a Lawyer Before Your Arraignment?
Your rights are on the line from the moment you’re arrested, and you simply cannot afford to wait to obtain legal representation until after your arraignment. Doing so could make your case more complex and harder to fight later on. Call Adams and Kokonowski, LLC today for a consultation at (413) 737-9700.