What Happens At Your OVI First Appearance?
The following will happen when you appear for your OVI First Appearance.
At your OVI first appearance you will be called into a big room with many people facing many different types of charges. The Judge, will explain the complaint or charge. This details the offense(s) you are charged with. In addition, the Court must explain it to you if you do not understand the nature of the charge(s).
The Judge will also advise you of the potential penalties. Many people will plead guilty to the charges and receive their punishment. We are often confronted with people who regret their OVI arraignment decisions. It is important to talk to an attorney prior to making decision that could impact your future.
What Do I Say At The Podium?
When you approach the podium, you will have the opportunity to ask questions. You may inquire about your rights, the charge, or the maximum penalty possible under the law. You are advised that you have the right to retain an attorney. This is true even if you intend to plead guilty. You have the right to a reasonable continuance to secure an attorney.
If you do not intend to be represented by an attorney, you will be asked to sign a waiver form, if the potential sentence in your case carries possible jail time. Please do not make statements concerning the facts of your case until the Judge asks you for a statement. Any statements you make may be used against you at a trial if a plea of not guilty is entered.
You may choose to enter any of these pleas at your OVI first appearance:
By pleading NOT GUILTY, you are denying the charge. The prosecution will be required to prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial.
The plea of GUILTY is a complete admission of your guilt. If you plead guilty, you will be permitted to give a statement or explanation to the Judge before the sentence is imposed.
The plea of NO CONTEST at your OVI arraignment is not an admission of your guilt, but is an admission of the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint or citation, and the plea or admission shall not be used against you in any pending or subsequent civil or criminal proceeding.
DON’T DO THIS ALONE – CALL AN ATTORNEY!
It is of vital importance that you consult with an attorney prior to entering a plea. Hiring counsel will also have the benefit of taking care of the arraignment process. In most courts, an attorney is permitted to file papers with the court announcing his representation of the defendant, thereby vacating the need for a formal in-court arraignment. Ask your OVI attorney if your attendance at the arraignment will be required.
If you do attend, the arraignment will be a very quick process wherein your attorney leads you to a podium, waives reading of the charge and enters a not guilty plea on your behalf. Matters of bond may, or may not be addressed at an arraignment. It is not common for your defense attorney to see the prosecutor who will handle your case and reach a resolution at the arraignment. Usually, issues of discovery and plea negotiations will take place later at the pre-trial hearing.
Some people have preconceived notions about the arraignment. For instance, some clients believe that it will be held against them if they do not attend the hearing. I have never heard of this being the case. If the court wishes for the defendant to attend, it will become part of the court rules. Other clients think that the press will be present. This is usually not the case and your attorney will be able to tell you if such press coverage could be expected. Still other clients think that the judge will be rude, harsh or judgmental from the bench during the arraignment. Again, this will rarely if ever happen. If you have questions about your case, give us a call.