What is an Arraignment?

Written by Reynolds Defense Firm

On December 15, 2017

I have a court date on my ticket – is that my Arraignment?

The court date written on your criminal citation is the date and time you need to appear in court for your DUI Arraignment.  In Oregon, this is your first court appearance following your arrest.  This is not your trial date, but how you are officially checked into the court system. Depending on which county you were arrested (each court has their own way of doing things), your arraignment timeline varies.  Your arraignment may be the day after your arrest or could be up to 30 or more days later.  At a DUI Arraignment, you’ll learn two important things.  First, you will learn exactly what crimes you are charged with.  Then, you will receive the next court date for your case.  Your case will not be resolved at this appearance.  This is an opportunity for the court, the District Attorney and you to check in to get the process started.

Do I need to have an attorney at the Arraignment?

You are at a distinct disadvantage if you go to this court appearance alone.  Going to court seems pretty straightforward when everything goes well. But the judge and the DA have done this hundreds of times already. They both know exactly what to expect and how to behave.  Chances are, you don’t. And anything you say or do can affect your DUI case moving forward.  This ultimately will make things even more challenging than they are already.  While each county has a different court procedures that continue to vary with the charges against you, we can help.

If you hire Reynolds Defense Firm to represent you, we may be able to waive your need to appear and go to this court date.  In some jurisdictions, we may even be able to cancel the DUI Arraignment completely.  If you don’t have a lawyer who is representing you, you must appear at your Arraignment.  If you don’t, you risk a warrant being issued for your arrest.

What do I do if I want an attorney but don’t have one before my arraignment?

Although we recommend hiring an experienced DUI lawyer prior to the Arraignment, if you are unable to do that, be sure to ask the judge for additional time to do this – most courts will give you an extension or adjust the next court date to give you a chance to have an attorney there with you.  Your DUI Arraignment is also your opportunity to apply for a Court Appointed Attorney (CAA) if that is the route you want to take.  You’ll need to follow the CAA application process and the judge will decide if you qualify.

RDF has over 60 years combined experience in Oregon criminal defense.  Our attorneys are experienced with the various procedures that courts use throughout the state of Oregon.  For example, our lawyers are very familiar with both Beaverton Municipal Court and Washington County Court  and understand that DUII cases in these counties sometimes require an extra court appearance and can often take longer to resolve than in other Portland area courts. Since we know the process so well, we can help our clients understand what to expect. Having an attorney who is experienced in a variety of different jurisdictions make a difference.  It will help reduce your stress by working with a specialists who understand what the typical process is.

What if I miss my Arraignment?

If you’ve been charged with a crime and missed your DUI Arraignment, please talk with a lawyer who knows Oregon DUI law.  You should treat this absence urgently, as your case could go from “not good” to “really bad” very quickly.  At the point you didn’t show up in court, the judge likely issued a bench warrant for your arrest. A bench warrant means you are in danger of a police officer coming to your home or work, placing you under arrest, and taking you to jail until the court can sort this out. If you are charged with a DUII, this can also result in an additional suspension of your driver’s license, and may prevent you from entering a DUI Diversion program.

Regardless of what criminal charge you initially face, the district attorney can add another criminal charge – Failure to Appear (FTA) – that you would also have to face.  A good lawyer can minimize many of these consequences for you, depending on the unique circumstances of your case, but the earlier in the process you bring that attorney on board, the more effective he or she can be for you.

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