Release Following DC DUI Arraignment

Often after you are arrested for a DUI in Washington, DC the first time you appear in court will be for the arraignment. At the DUI arraignment, one of the most important decisions that are made is bond, or whether a person will be released up until the date of their trial. A DC DUI lawyer can explain what goes into the decision to hold someone before trial and it is important to understand why hiring an attorney before this process takes place is typically a good idea.

Factors Determining Release

The court is going to look at the defendant’s current status with regards to the criminal justice system. Are they on parole, on probation, or already on release from another case? In those situations, the defendant very well might be held in custody because they already have pending criminal matters at one phase or another and they are back in court for another one. It is not a certainty that they will be held, but the judge will look at that closely and they very well could be.

Additionally, the judge is going to look at the prior criminal history of the defendant. In DUI cases, the judge will want to know whether or not this defendant had one or more prior DUI convictions. Prior convictions can show a pattern and can make the judge leery of releasing the defendant into the public, because the judge may then view the defendant as a risk of harm to himself or others. This is a situation where the judge thinks, “I just can’t put this person back out into the community pending this case and feel confident that this person is not going to harm himself or others.”

Flight Risks

If there is a history of this defendant missing court dates or skipping out on past warrants issued for his or her arrest in prior court cases, then the judge will certainly look at that because it could be an indication that this defendant is at risk of flight. It doesn’t literally mean that the defendant is going to leave the country—although if the court has reason to believe that, they certainly will consider it. Instead, it involves flight in the sense of not appearing as ordered for court.

If there is a history of that or the facts indicate that this is an individual who simply is not going to cooperate with the judicial process, then the judge very well could make a finding that the defendant is a flight risk and therefore needs to be held in custody.

After an Arraignment

Where someone will be taken after their arraignment will depend. In certain cases, if they are held in custody, then they are not going to be free. Instead, they are going to be taken to the D.C. jail. However, in the vast majority of DUI cases, they will be released and free in the sense that they are released from court to go home, but there may be release conditions set for them. Someone may be required to report weekly, either in person or by telephone, to the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency. In very limited circumstances, they may be placed on house arrest or have a GPS monitoring device placed on them.

In a first offense DUI case, someone would not expect that, but if they have other pending cases in addition to their new DUI case, it could be a possibility. They are free but they are required to follow the court orders. If the court orders them to report in person or by phone to Pretrial Services and to come to their next court hearing, they need to follow those orders. They are free in the sense that they are not in jail, but they certainly are under some form of supervision.

Contacting an Attorney

If the defendant has the opportunity to retain counsel prior to the arraignment, they certainly should strongly consider doing so because they will have the ability to develop a rapport with the attorney they choose, look into the background and experience of that attorney, and make an informed decision on who they want to represent them going forward. They will have the opportunity to meet with the attorney and discuss the pertinent facts and arguments that can be made on their behalf.

They will also have enough time to give the attorney all the pertinent information and allow for necessary follow-up—rather than a last moment meeting with an attorney at court where there may not be enough time to get all of the important information and details confirmed and presented to the court. Hiring an attorney as early as possible can be critical.