If you have been charged with a Los Angeles Hit and Run, you will get a citation which will state the date, time and location of the courthouse at which you will have to appear. This appearance is not optional, or per your convenience. You have to appear in court on that date, or have an attorney appear on your behalf. An attorney can only appear on your behalf if it is not a felony hit and run. It has to be a misdemeanor and not fall under one of the exceptions in which the person being charged must also appear. This first court appearance is referred to as the Arraignment.
At the arraignment there are several things that will takes place:
1. The court shall read you the charges against you.
The charge will likely be under California Vehicle Code §20001, 20002 or 20003. They will explain what the charges mean and what you are being accused of. This does not mean that you have been found guilty, or that you have committed these acts, it merely means that the government has probable cause to believe that you can be found guilty of these charges.
2. The Court will read you your rights Under the United States Constitution, you are afforded certain rights.
These rights are established to protect you and your freedom. In essence, the government must make sure that careful steps are taken to ensure that you have a voice, that you are heard, and you are given a fair chance to defend yourself, before you are found guilty.
3. The Prosecutor will offer you a plea bargain
A plea bargain is an offer, which is usually a lesser charge or sentence, if you agree to plead guilty that day and conclude your case. A plea bargain is not always a good offer, and is one that must be considered in light of the facts of your case, knowledge of the Judge, and the nature of Prosecutor. This is why it is beneficial to hire a Los Angeles Hit and Run attorney who is familiar with the courtroom and the Judge. They should take the time to review the facts, and the available defenses and arguments to determine whether it is a good offer and in your best interest to take it, or if it is better to argue and negotiate the offer.
4. Right to continue the matter
An arraignment may be continued once, up to thirty days. There are many reasons to continue an Arraignment. You may want to get an attorney, and have not yet found one that you want to represent you. You have a right to counsel, and you have a right to find that counsel. If you indicate to the court that you would like to retain an attorney, and have not yet done so, they will give you the thirty day continuance. In any situation, be prepared for what will happen at an Arraignment. Be ready to provide the Judge with the information that is needed and requested, and if you plan to hire a legal professional it is a good idea to have one retained prior to the hearing.