When Do I Have To First Appear In Court After Being Arrested For A Dwi?
When you will have to appear in court after an arrest for a charge of DWI depends on a variety of factors, including where the arrest occurred, what court it is in and in what county, if a chemical blood test was obtained it usually takes longer for a result to come back which means it likely will be a longer timeframe before the DA in the criminal case will have enough evidence to proceed. The physical presence of any individual who is a defendant in a criminal case is totally determinative on what type of charge it is (whether a misdemeanor or felony offense), what county and in what court (many have different rules and procedures for this), and other factors that generally are not within control. Some counties where DWI cases are filed, such as Dallas County, if it is a misdemeanor the physical presence of the defendant is only required if it is what is called a “dispositive” setting – meaning where something material will be decided and a hearing where a ruling will be made that will have an impact on the overall case and how it is ultimately disposed. Other courts within the same county have different policies.
A common misconception is how soon the first court appearance actually occurs and that when this date is set, some of our clients believe it is the actual jury trial setting. To put it mildly, it is safe to make the assertion that in all counties and in all courts in Texas, especially with DWI cases, the wheels of justice move slowly. If it’s a blood test case, it can take 120 days to get the blood results. You may finally get a court date six months from the arrest. The first court date, regardless of where the case is located, is what is called an appearance, it is not and is very far from being the actual trial.
The first appearance, regardless of the county, usually, only consists of the defendant showing he is still physically present and will attend court whenever required, and the attorney at these usually will obtain most of the relevant discovery on the case, and perhaps begin initial plea negotiations with the DA assigned, and it’s possible for them to convey what they are offering at that juncture as their plea recommendation on the case. Mainly, the defendant merely checks in with the court, lets the Judge or whoever else needs to know that they are not a flight risk and they are still around, they are taking the matter seriously, and will attend all settings whenever it is required. Some counties require the physical presence of the defendant at every setting, regardless of the factors involved with the offense, or what exactly will be involved or which may occur at the hearing. Generally speaking, there will not be any type of dispositive hearing, especially any trial settings, for much later on usually at least until after the initial appearance and any announcement settings. If the case is ultimately set for trial, again – the timing involved when this will occur depend upon the same factors. Often other courts within the same county may have different policies and procedures for what types of cases and when they will go to trial. Some will hire visiting Judges to help expedite the process, to help make sure they do not have a backed-up trial docket with a lot of cases needing to be heard. Some courts, on the other hand, drag their feet and a trial may not occur for quite some time, resulting in a timeline that is completely unknown for when the case will be heard and the defendant finally afforded the opportunity to have their case heard at a trial.
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