First Appearances in Manassas Court for a DUI
In Manassas, an initial appearance is the first time that you appear before a General District Court judge in the course of your DUI case. The initial appearance involves you going before the judge where you are (1) advised what you are charged with and, (2) because the charges potentially carry jail time, that you have the right to be represented by an attorney.
At that time, the court will inquire as to whether you wish to hire an attorney or if you wish to defend yourself, and to see if you qualify for court appointed counsel. After your defense is established, a hearing date is set.
An experienced Manassas DUI Lawyer will work diligently to provide a strong defense, and to minimize the penalties you face as much as possible, if not completely.
What to Expect
Your initial appearance before the court on a DUI, as well as most misdemeanor charges, will be held within a week or two of your arrest.
After you have been arrested for a DUI, the initial appearance will take place in the General District Court, which is the same place that the trial will ultimately be held in a misdemeanor case.
At the initial appearance, you will appear with many other defendants who are there for the first time on misdemeanor charges. You will also be advised of your right to have an attorney. The court will then determine whether you wish to hire your own attorney, apply for court appointed counsel, or represent yourself in the case. At that time, your trial date will also be set.
Who Attends the First Hearing
The initial appearance is attended in most cases only by the defendant and the judge. The prosecutor does not appear at this hearing. If you, the defendant, have hired an attorney prior to the first appearance, the attorney will file paperwork with the court noting their appearance before the court. Once the attorney’s appearance is noted, neither he/she, nor the defendant, need to appear at the initial appearance.
The judge who presides over your appearance in Manassas could potentially be the same judge who presides over your case, but will not necessarily be. In most jurisdictions – and this is true in Prince William County, Fairfax, and others – there are a number of judges, and they rotate duties between who does initial appearances, who does a motion’s docket, and who does the various trial dockets.
While it is possible that you could have the same judge, it is actually fairly unlikely that you would have the same individual at both times.
Hiring an Attorney
If you have been charged with a DUI, it is very important to retain an attorney. The consequences that come with a DUI conviction are both short-term and long-term, and can ultimately alter a person’s life. Not only will it be difficult to find employment, but there is also a social stigma attached to a DUI conviction that could affect the way people look at you. To avoid these negative results, hiring an attorney is the best thing you can do.