Charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense in the District of Columbia, now what?
The first question to ask yourself is whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor is any criminal offense where you face less than 1 year in jail. A felony is a criminal offense where you face more than a year in jail. In Washington, DC, misdemeanors are prosecuted by 2 government entities, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) or the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office (OAG). This article looks at the process of a typical misdemeanor that goes through the DC Superior Court in Washington, DC.
The police officer stopped him and charged him with a misdemeanor. Typical misdemeanors in the District of Columbia are simple assault, possession of illegal drugs, threats, robbery, destruction of property, etc. The police officer has 2 alternatives at this point. He can issue you a citation release or hold you in custody to see a judge within 48 hours. A citation release is usually granted for low risk offenders and has strong ties to the community after he runs a background check. You will be asked to sign a notice for room C10. DC Superior Court Courtroom C10 is an arraignment court. If you are being held by the police department at the time of the misdemeanor, you will see a judge in courtroom C10 within 48 hours, most of the time within 24 hours. At this point, he can ask about hiring an attorney; however, it is not necessary as there will be an attorney at your initial arraignment provided by the Court. The attorney will represent you at the arraignment; however, he will be selected for a court-appointed attorney on this date and, if he does not qualify, he must obtain an attorney by his next in-state date.
The trial court is open every day except Sunday. Arraignment is a formal reading of criminal information in the presence of the defendant to inform the defendant of the charges against him. For family members trying to find their loved ones who are in lockdown, there will be a list on the wall before entering Room C10 advising which attorney has been assigned to represent your family member.
At the time of the arraignment, the prosecutor will report in open court whether you are eligible for diversion. Thereafter, a next court date is set called a status hearing. A status hearing is when you will make the decision to accept diversion (if eligible), set a trial date, or plead guilty.