When you are facing serious charges and have a lot at stake, you can never ask too many questions. Darwyn is always happy to address any concerns you may have. The following are some of the questions he is asked most:
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What should I expect at my arraignment for a DUI charge?
If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), your first court appearance will be your arraignment. Often, the hearing will be the day after you were arrested if you were detained. In some courts, you will be taken to the courthouse for your arraignment. However, the judges in many jurisdictions will conduct the hearing by video conferencing while you remain in jail.
Sometimes, you may have been released from jail on your own recognizance—your promise to return for all court hearings—or by posting bail soon after your arrest. If this happens, your arraignment could be a few days after you were arrested.
What Happens at a DUI Arraignment
Your arraignment will be a short court hearing before the judge. At the hearing, the judge will do the following:
- Read the criminal charges against you.
- Ask if you have hired an attorney and offer to appoint a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford to pay for one. The judge will most likely ask you questions regarding your financial situation if you are requesting that an attorney be appointed for you.
- Ask you how you will plead to the charges. You can plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. It is often the best to plead not guilty until you have discussed your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
- Decide whether you can be released on personal recognizance or set the amount of your bail if this has not been done earlier.
- Announce the future court hearings in your case, such as a preliminary hearing, pre-trial motions, and trial. You must attend these hearings.
You should consult with your attorney before your arraignment and have him attend it with you if possible—especially if your bail will need to be set.
If you have been charged with a DUI, I can advise you in more detail about what to expect at your arraignment. Call me today at 888-386-3898 to schedule a free consultation.
Can charges be dismissed if the police don’t inform me of my Miranda rights?
If the police did not inform you of your Miranda rights when taking you into custody, you may believe that the charges against you will be dismissed. Unfortunately, that is not what usually happens—at least not automatically. However, you may have a strong defense if the police make the big mistake of not telling you about your Miranda rights.
What Happens When You Are Not Given Your Miranda Rights
Your Miranda rights protect your right under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to not make self-incriminating statements. After being taken into custody, the police must tell you of the following:
- You have a right to remain silent.
- Anything you say could be used against you in court.
- You have a right to an attorney.
- An attorney will be appointed for you if you cannot afford one.
The police cannot interrogate you until they inform you of these important rights. If they fail to do so, it can affect your criminal case in the following ways:
- Any statement or confession you made would be considered involuntary and could not be used against you in your criminal case.
- Any evidence the police obtained as a result of your confession or statement may not be admissible in court.
If the police cannot use this evidence against you, they may have an extremely weak case against you—which could be grounds for the dismissal of the charges against you. However, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you raise this defense as well as any other defenses that may be relevant to your case.
If you have been charged with a crime, I invite you to read my free book, The Criminal Legal Process in Virginia, and fill out the online form to schedule a free consultation.
Can I get my DUI charge reduced to a wet reckless charge in a plea agreement?
If you were charged with driving under the influence (DUI)—especially if it was an honest mistake and your first offense—you do not want a DUI conviction on your criminal record. You may be able to enter into a plea agreement with the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a lesser charge. However, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you obtain this deal.
When You May Be Able to Enter Into a Plea Agreement for a Wet Reckless Charge
A wet reckless is a reckless driving charge when alcohol is involved and is less serious than a DUI conviction. Wet reckless is not a specific statutory violation, and it is not available in all localities in Virginia. While prosecutors will not always agree to a reduced wet reckless conviction, they may do so in the following situations:
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is slightly below or above .08 percent.
- The prosecutor’s case has weaknesses, and he would rather obtain a conviction rather than the possibility of losing a trial.
The penalties for a wet reckless conviction are less serious than for a DUI. You could face the following penalties:
- Up to 90 days in jail
- Probation for up to two years
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months
- Required to participate in a VASAP alcohol education program
If you have been charged with a DUI, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you enter into the most favorable plea agreement for your situation. Fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation to start to learn more about your rights.
Can I be charged with a DUI even though my blood alcohol level was below the legal limit?
Whether you bar hop on the weekends or merely drink on social occasions, it’s important to know how to drink responsibly, especially if you’re planning to get behind the wheel. In addition to protecting yourself from a potential drunk driving accident, waiting to drive until you’re sober will help you avoid DUI charges.
Over the past few years, Virginia has drastically increased its drunk driving enforcement campaign in order to punish would-be violators. As such, more and more DUI checkpoints have been set up and traffic stops have increased. Ultimately, this means that the risk of you being caught when you drink and drive is much greater than it was 10 years ago.
DUI Charges Despite Low BAC Levels
One of the fundamental tools a police officer uses to determine whether a driver is drunk is a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer essentially tests the amount of alcohol in your breath and determines your blood alcohol content based on that. In Virginia, the legal BAC limit for adults is 0.08. This means that if you blow a BAC of 0.08 or higher, you’ll be charged with a DUI. However, blowing below 0.08 doesn’t necessarily exonerate you from charges. In some cases, officers reserve the right to charge and arrest you under suspicion of drunk driving despite the results of your breathalyzer test. These cases include violation of the following:
- Zero Tolerance Laws. These laws focus primarily on underage drinkers and specifically address criminal punishments for operating motor vehicles under the influence of any amount of alcohol. For instance, if you’re 20 years old and driving with a BAC of 0.03, you can be charged with a DUI.
- Noticeable Impairment. Virginia laws not only take into account the amount of alcohol drivers have consumed, but also how that alcohol affects their abilities. Alcohol tolerance varies from person to person. No matter what your tolerance, if you exhibit noticeable impairment while driving or an officer witnesses dulled senses, you can be charged with a DUI even if you blow a BAC below the legal limit.
- Passage of Time Rule. The passage of time allows officers to charge drivers with a DUI if their BAC is near the legal limit (0.07). The assumption is that when the driver began his drive, he was legally drunk, but by the time the officer pulled him over his BAC lowered to a legal level.
We’ve Got Your “BAC”
If you’ve recently been charged with a DUI or DWI offense even though your BAC was below the legal limit, call us today. Our exceptional skills and experience will help you build a strong and reliable DUI defense. Contact us today at 703-865-6610. We’ll have your back.
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How can I have my criminal record expunged from public access?
If you have been arrested in Virginia, you have a public criminal record. Potential employers, professional licensing agencies, schools, and even your family and friends can see it. Because a criminal record could cause problems in your professional and personal life, you may want to consider filing for expungement of your record from public access.
Sealing Your Record