Charged with a misdemeanor 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 in which you face less than 1 year in jail. A felony is a criminal offense where you face more than one 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 typical misdemeanor process that goes through the DC Superior Court in Washington, DC.
The police officer detained him and charged him with a misdemeanor. Typical misdemeanors in the District of Columbia are Simple Assault, Possession of Illegal Drugs, Threats, Theft, Destruction of Property, etc. The police officer has 2 alternatives at this time. He can issue you a subpoena or detain you to see a judge within 48 hours. A release of citation is usually granted for low-risk offenders and you have strong ties to the community after you run a background check. You will be asked to sign a notice for court room C10. Room C10 in DC Superior Court is a prosecution court. If you are detained by the police department at the time of the misdemeanor, you will see a judge in the C10 courtroom within 48 hours, most of the time within 24 hours. At this point, you can request information on hiring a lawyer; 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, you will be selected for a court appointed attorney on this date and if you do not qualify, you must obtain an attorney prior to your next status date.
The investigative court is open every day except Sundays. The arraignment is a formal reading of criminal information in the presence of the accused to inform the accused of the charges against him. For family members trying to find their loved ones who are locked up, there will be a list on the wall before entering Room C10 stating which attorney has been assigned to represent your relative.
At the time of the arraignment, the prosecutor will inform in a public hearing if 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 the diversion (if eligible), set a trial date, or plead guilty.