DUI Initial Appearances in Montana

After DUI charges are filed there are three basic stages to the case: 1) Initial Appearance; 2) Arraignment; and 3) Trial. Although most people think of trials when they think of Court, the truth is that many Montana DUIs are resolved without a trial.

State law requires that after a person is arrested, he must be taken before the nearest and most accessible judge without unnecessary delay for an initial appearance. The judge must advise the defendant of the charge or charges filed and of the right to

  • counsel;
  • to appointed counsel if the defendant cannot afford a DUI attorney;
  • to bail;
  • to remain silent and that any statement made may be used against him as evidence;
  • to a probable cause hearing for a felony;
  • of the right to a jury trial for any misdemeanor charge.

Montana statute 46-12-210 lays out all the rights that a defendant must be advised of at arraignment, including the possible penalties for the crime charged. At the initial appearance, the judge must set bail or release the defendant on his own recognizance bail. In practice, many Montanans charged with DUI will have their initial appearance and arraignment at the same time.

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