Do You Have to Hire an Attorney Before Your Arraignment for a DWI charge?

One question people have about their Virginia DWI is whether or not they need an attorney before their arraignment date. The answer is no.

When you’re arrested for DWI, the first court date that you have is usually your arraignment. If you’re not sure whether it’s an arraignment or a trial date you should check with the court to be certain. However, in most cases this is an arraignment date.

The arraignment is designed to advise you about your right to have an attorney. The judge will tell you that you’re facing possible jail time and therefore you can apply for a court-appointed attorney. You can hire your own attorney, or you can represent yourself and not have an attorney. Those are your choices.

No matter what you say at the arraignment regarding your attorney for a DWI case, the court will set a trial date in most cases for you to come back later. You’ll absolutely get a later date if you tell the judge that you want an attorney for the case. That’s the whole point of the arraignment is to first, warn you that you might go to jail and second you really should think about hiring a lawyer.

Because of this nature of the DWI arraignment, you do not need to have an attorney on that day. It certainly is not a bad idea to start interviewing attorneys, but you don’t have to hire someone before the arraignment.

In some cases, the one benefit to hiring someone before the arraignment is that we can waive the arraignment, which basically saves you a court appearance. However, in no case do you have to hire an attorney before your arraignment.

Always remember that you have time, even when attorneys are shouting at you that there’s not enough time. You’ll have at least a few weeks after arraignment to get an attorney on board. Time matters, but you don’t have to hire the first lawyer you talk to.

Photo by: NCM3

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