An initial appearance in a DUI case refers to the first time that an individual goes in front of a judge, subsequent to their arrest. A first appearance in a case when an individual requires bail is typically an arraignment or an advisement. This is where the court advises the individual that they have been charged with something that potentially carries jail time and lets them know that they have a right to an attorney. For individuals that have not been granted bail, in addition to being advised of their right to counsel and that they are charged with something that carries jail time, the court will, in many cases, make an initial bail determination or set a date for a bail hearing. It is sometimes possible to have already hired a Manassas DUI attorney prior to the initial appearance, in which case the attorney can either attend the hearing with the individual, or often times get the hearing waved, as the individual already has representation.
When the initial appearance for a DUI case will take place depends on whether the person is free on bail or not. If a person is not free on bail, the initial appearance in most cases will happen the next day that the court sits following the arrest. If a person is released on bail, the initial appearance will typically be within a week or two of the arrest date.
The initial appearance in Manassas will take place in the Prince William County General District Court. This is the same court where the case will ultimately be heard. There is a special docket for first appearances and there are different dockets for the first appearance depending on whether the person is free on bail or whether they are incarcerated.
At the initial appearance, the judge will advise the defendant what their charges are, advise them that they are charged with something that potentially carries jail time, and will let them know that they have a right to an attorney assisting them in the case. The judge will then inquire whether the person wants to hire an attorney, whether they want to see if they qualify for court appointed counsel, or whether they want to represent themselves. In cases where a person is being held without bail, the judge will additionally advise the person that they have a right to have a hearing on that issue and, in some cases, will schedule that hearing in consultation with the individual’s attorney.
At the initial appearance for a DUI in Manassas, the defendant and the judge will always be present. In cases where an individual is being held without bail, there will also be a prosecutor and if a defense attorney has been hired, the defense attorney will also be present. In cases where the individual is not incarcerated, typically the hearing only involves the defendant, the judge, and in rare cases, a prosecutor. When a defense attorney has been hired, most of the time that advisement or arraignment or first appearance will be waived by the attorney filing paperwork with the court letting the court know that they are representing the individual.
It is possible that the judge that presides over the initial appearance in Manassas might be the trial judge on the case, but it is more likely that it will not be the same person. In Prince William County, there are four judges that preside over the General District Courts and they rotate their responsibilities so that the person that is the trial judge on a particular day varies from who might be presiding over initial appearances on another day. By the time that someone gets back to court for trial, it is possible that their arraignment judge or first appearance judge is the same one that will preside over their trial, but there is only a one in four chance of that occurring.
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