Washington, DC DUI Courthouse
When a person is arrested on suspicion of DUI, is not on probation, and does not have any pending felony cases or connected felony charges, he or she will be typically released from the police station with a citation to appear at the DC Superior Courthouse for their arraignment date about three to four weeks after their arrest.
If a person has been arrested for a DUI in DC but, for example, the officer also found an unregistered and unlicensed gun in his or her car, that person could be charged with DUI as well as the felony charge of carrying an unlawful pistol. The two cases would still be heard in the same courthouse, which is the DC Superior Courthouse.
The first court date is called an arraignment, and is where the person charged with a DUI would simply be read the charges so that his or her lawyer can enter a plea of not guilty, make a request for discovery, which is evidence from the government, and schedule the case for a continued status hearing so that the defense work can begin.
On the arraignment date, a person should arrive at the DC Superior courthouse a little bit before the time that has been noted on the citation to appear. This is necessary in order to find parking if he or she is driving and stand in line at the front of the security entrance in order to get into the courthouse. Upon arriving at the courthouse, the person should go directly to the courtroom that is written on the citation to appear. In a DUI case, that courtroom would typically be either Courtroom 115, 116, or 120.
DUI cases along with all criminal cases, are open to the public. When a case is open to the public, friends, families or even complete strangers are permitted to be inside the courtroom while the case is going on. The only cases that are not open to the public are juvenile cases where a defendant is under 18 and charged in the juvenile division of the DC Superior courthouse.
There is only one courthouse in Washington, DC that hears DUI cases, which is the DC Superior courthouse. The DC Superior courthouse hears criminal traffic cases such as driving under the influence, leaving after a collision, and certain types of reckless driving cases. The Superior courthouse also hears criminal misdemeanor cases such as assaults and drug possession, and felony cases such as sexual assault, burglary, and more.
The DC Superior courthouse hears all non-federal criminal cases in Washington, DC. DC has a separate federal district courthouse that hears federal crimes committed within the District. These federal crimes can include drug trafficking, certain types of financial crimes, and more. People who are arrested on federal property, such as the national mall or federal buildings, will not necessarily have their case heard in federal court. Most local crimes, including DUI, misdemeanor assaults, and most felonies, are heard in DC Superior court, even if the crime is alleged to have taken place on federal property.
DC Superior Court
Since there is only one Superior courthouse in Washington, DC, and due to the overwhelming amount of criminal cases, the courthouse can be a little confusing to get around. Having a lawyer experienced with the DC Superior courthouse who understands where the courtrooms are, who the judges are, and who the prosecutors are, can make a person’s criminal case that much easier.
The DC Superior Courthouse, called the Moultrie Superior Courthouse for the District of Columbia, is located at 500 Indiana Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC. If a person is lost inside the DC Superior courthouse, there is a criminal information desk where a person can find out which courtroom his case will be heard.
The security personnel at the DC courthouse are courteous. They are careful about making sure people do not enter the DC Superior courthouse with dangerous items such as knives, weapons or anything flammable or explosive. As a result of the care that they take in screening people coming to the courthouse, it is common for the security line to be fairly long. To prevent a late court appearance, a person should arrive at the courthouse about 15 to 20 minutes before they are told to be there to allow enough time to get through the security line and get to the designated courtroom on time.
There are three different types of judges in the DC Superior Court. The lowest level of those judges are the magistrate judges, which have a number of different tasks depending on their assignments at any given time. One task the magistrate judges have is to preside over the traffic cases in the DC Superior Court. The criminal traffic courts and DC Superior Court are responsible for presiding over nearly all DUI cases, at least at the initial stages, meaning that when a person has been arrested for driving under the influence, their initial arraignment appearance will almost always be before a magistrate judge.
The magistrate judges in the DC Superior Court are located in Courtrooms 115, 116, and 120. Unlike associate judges, magistrate judges in Washington DC do not need to be nominated by the president or approved by the Senate. Associate judges are higher-level judges in the DC Superior Court and because DC is not a state, they need to be nominated by the president and approved by the Senate. Once a person has been an associate judge for a lengthy period time, they may be eligible to take on senior judge status.
Senior judges are judges who preside over a limited number of cases on an infrequent basis and are typically on a rotating schedule. In general, judges at the DC Superior Court, whether they be magistrate, associate, or senior, have a decent amount of experience at an academic and practical level in a variety of types of cases.
Very often, judges in the DC Superior Court may have been prosecutors with the U.S Attorney’s office. Sometimes they have been defense attorneys, or they may have experience in family law or in child advocacy law, but in general, the judges in the DC Superior Court are experienced and knowledgeable. However, they are also human beings. Their knowledge is not omnipotent in the sense that they still do have areas where defense attorneys need to be very strong in their advocacy to argue their points on behalf of their client.