What can I expect with my DUI case in Albemarle County?
When will my case be scheduled for trial?
Most DUI cases are set for trial within one or two months from the time of your first appearance in Albemarle County General District Court. Your first appearance will usually be within a week of your arrest.
The court will also consider your attorney's schedule when setting the case for trial.
Do I need an attorney for a first court date?
No. You do not need an attorney for your first court date.
You can hire an attorney before your first court appearance. In many cases, if you hire an attorney before your first court appearance, you won't need to attend the first court date. If you don't hire an attorney before the first court date, Judge Barkley will ask whether you'd like to hire an attorney or apply for a court appointed attorney. If you tell him that you'd like to hire an attorney, the case will be scheduled for trial in about one month. If you ask for a court appointed attorney, the judge will have to fill in information about your financial situation and then appoint the public defender's office to represent you.
What will happen if I'm convicted of DUI in Albemarle?
Judge Barkley will normally sentence you to the mandatory minimum punishments if he finds you guilty of DUI. That means you'll have a suspended jail sentence, a $250 fine, 12 month license suspension, 6 month ignition interlock, and VASAP counselling. Lately, the Albemarle prosecutors have decided to ask for jail time on a first offense DUI, but it is still up to Judge Barkley whether to impose any active sentence on your DUI.
There are some special circumstances where even if it's your first offense, you can expect some jail time if you're convicted. For example, if you blew a .15 BAC or above, jail time can be expected. Also, if there was a car accident, you might have to serve jail time.
Does the court consider my character before convicting and sentencing me?
No. Your character will only be relevant if your case is a DUI where you're looking at significant jail time. If you're charged with a first or second offense, the judge will not consider your character before convicting you and sentencing you. That means character witnesses and letters are not necessary for your DUI case in Albemarle.