What to Do after Receiving a Criminal Summons
Getting arrested for an OUI in Massachusetts can be a harrowing experience. Many times, the people who get arrested aren’t quite sure why the police singled them out. In the case of an OUI, the person may not know that he or she is drunk. No matter the reason, getting arrested is scary and brings up a lot of questions about what is going to happen after receiving the criminal summons.
Be Prepared, Not Scared
In Massachusetts, after someone is arrested for an OUI, they are taken to jail and processed. After the police have put them into the system, most people are allowed to bail out. This process usually doesn’t take very much time, so the person bailing out of jail doesn’t get the information they need about their first court appearance. When this happens, the prosecutor sends out a criminal summons instead of going and arresting the person for a second time. Usually, with a criminal summons, OUI charges are not a surprise. If someone has been arrested for an OUI, they should simply expect to find a criminal summons in the mail sometime soon.
Procrastination Is Bad
Upon receiving a criminal summons, be sure to open it as soon as possible. Even though they are scary and certainly don’t bear any good news, avoiding them could mean some quality time in jail. Contained in the summons is the date, time, and place of the first court appearance. Depending on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony, this could be for either an arraignment or an initial court appearance. After opening the summons, be sure to call an attorney because things start to get tricky from here on out.
Understanding an Arraignment
If the charge is for a misdemeanor, the first court appearance is called an arraignment. During this court proceeding, a judge will read the charges being brought against the defendant and ask him or her to enter a plea. In almost all cases, the plea should be “Not guilty,” though there are some circumstances under which pleading guilty may be in the defendant’s best interest. The best-case scenario during an arraignment is to have an attorney present who can act as a guide through this nerve-wracking process.
Understanding an Initial Appearance
If the charge is for a felony, the first court appearance is called an initial appearance. During the initial appearance, a judge will read the charges against the defendant but will not ask for a plea. Instead, the judge will read the defendant his or her rights and decide whether the defendant qualifies for a public defender. Under no circumstances will a judge ever deliver a sentence at an initial appearance.
No matter what the criminal summons states, the best thing to do is call an attorney who can help the process go as smoothly as possible and help make sure the defendant’s rights are protected and the outcome is as favorable as it can be.