Initial Appearance in Virginia DUI Courts  

The initial appearance in Virginia DUI courts differ. Some jurisdictions do not have any initial appearance and the first time that a person goes to court in this jurisdiction could be the person’s trial date. Other jurisdictions will have an intermediate court date between a person’s arrest and their court date. This is called an arraignment, or an initial appearance, and during that initial appearance the person is required to appear and the judge will go over three main things.

The judge will tell the person exactly what it is that they are charged with and the possible consequences of a conviction. The judge will tell the person that they have the right to an attorney, and if they cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for them. Finally, they will let the person know the trial date. Many people think that the arraignment is when they are going to have to enter a plea. That is not what happens in Virginia for this initial appearance or DUIs. Learn more by talking to a professional DUI lawyer.

When Initial Appearance Occurs

If the jurisdiction in which a person has been charged does have an initial appearance, it is generally going to be somewhere in the seven to ten-day range after that person’s arrest. The initial appearance in Virginia DUI courts will take place in the General District Court of the jurisdiction in which a person is charged.

Most of the time, the only parties present will be the person who has been charged and the judge. It is unusual for a prosecutor to be a part of an initial appearance for a DUI case but in some jurisdictions, they are. It depends on where a person is charged. Generally speaking, initial appearances are non-adversarial proceedings because they are simply opportunities for the court to advise a person regarding what they have been charged with, a person’s right to an attorney, and their trial date.

Role of Judge

The judge’s role in an initial appearance in a Virginia DUI court is to make sure that the person is aware of what they are charged with, aware that they have rights in terms of having a lawyer, and they are aware of the court date.

If a jurisdiction has more than one general district court judge, that judge may be the trial judge or it may be somebody else. When a judge presides over an initial appearance, that judge is in no way tied to the case, so if the judge is that person’s trial judge that is truly a matter of coincidence. There are other jurisdictions in Virginia where there is only one general district court judge for the entire jurisdiction, so in that case, the judge who advises them at the initial appearance would also be the trial judge. If you have more questions or concerns regarding an initial appearance in a Virginia DUI court, contact a skilled and experienced local lawyer who can provide more legal reassurance.