The first time a defendant appears in DC Superior Court is called the “arraignment.”
These 7 things will happen at your arraignment.
- You will receive an official copy of the charges against you – called an “information.” It doesn’t matter what you were told when you were arrested. You will receive the official charges at arraignment.
- The judge will determine your conditions of release. If you walked in front door of the court (i.e. not from lock-up) you will almost always be released and allowed to leave after your arraignment. You may be ordered to “stay away” from a specific location or person.
- You will receive a “discovery package,” which will include the police reports, and often a plea offer from the prosecutor.
- You will be asked if you are going to hire your own attorney, or if you want to apply for a public defender. If you want a public defender, you will be sent to an office down the hall to see of you qualify.
- You will be given your next court date, called a “status,” and asked to sign a paper promising to appear, and warning you that you face new charges if you fail to appear.
- You will be asked to verify your address. The easiest way to do this is to bring a bill or other official piece of mail received in the last 30 days.
- You may be ordered to provide a urine sample to test for drugs. D.C. Superior Court no longer tests for marijuana. The drugs you will be tested for are heroin, cocaine, PCP and amphetamines. Your urine will also be screened for “water loading,” which is drinking too much water in an attempt to dilute any drugs. If you use prescription medication, bring a copy of your prescription to prevent any false positives.
Right now, arraignments are starting promptly at 10:00 am in Courtroom C-10, which is on the “C” or basement level of the Courthouse, which is located at 500 Indiana Avenue, NW.
If you were also charged with a minor “D.C.” offense, such as drinking in public, driving on a suspended license, or other traffic offense, you may also need to be arraigned in traffic court at 8:30 a.m., in Courtroom 115.
Everyone entering the Superior Court is subject to search. Gun, knives and other weapons, along with controlled substances are prohibited. Cell phones are permitted, but you may want to turn them off before entering the courtroom. During busy times, security lines can be long, so give yourself plenty of time. Lines at the rear entrance on “C” street can be shorter.
If you intend to hire an attorney, you can do it prior to the arraignment, or later, between your arraignment and status.