Arraignment in a Columbus OVI case
Your Columbus DUI arraignment will be at the Franklin County Municipal Court Arraignment Courtroom 4C. It is located at 375 S. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 on the fourth floor. The Municipal Court Building is north of the German Village district between Mound St. and Fulton. Make sure to arrive early as parking is always an issue. Typically, arraignments take about 1 ½ – 2 hours. Franklin County Municipal Court is the fourth busiest courthouse in the country!
The first order of business will be to get you fingerprinted. Franklin County is one of the only counties in Ohio that fingerprints ALL of defendants charged in OVI cases. The fingerprint stand is right outside of courtroom 4C and open at 9:00 am. However, there is a form that is in the courts file that must be presented prior to obtaining fingerprints. You WILL NOT be fingerprinted until your attorney secures the needed form and hands it to fingerprint personnel.
Nearly all of our Columbus DUI clients will be under a driver’s license suspension. Therefore, we highly recommend you make arrangements with someone else to transport you to the courthouse on the day of your arraignment. Keep in mind, that even if you are granted limited driving privileges, there may be a “hard” suspension that must be served before the driving privileges are valid. Thus, DO NOT drive yourself to the courthouse unless advised to do so by your attorney.
Please dress appropriately for your court appearance. While your attire will not make or break your case, it is beneficial to make a good first impression to the court. Items such as jeans, shorts, sweatshirts, cut-offs, hats and gym shoes are not considered appropriate courtroom attire. Just think “business casual”.
You will also want to bring proof of valid insurance, for the vehicle involved, and your driver’s license (if it is still in your possession) to your court date. Once you arrived at the 375 High Street Courthouse Building, proceed through security. Do not bring any excessive items that may set off the metal detector. Take the elevator up to the fourth floor and wait outside of courtroom 4C. If you get lost or confused, ask any court officer where courtroom 4C is located, and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.
Courtroom 4C is an extremely busy courtroom. Due to the large amount of cases that are processed every day, things may move very slowly. Therefore, you should be prepared for a long waiting period before your case is called. However, in most circumstances, we can obtain your case early fro the clerk and arrange an “early call” which will allow you to spend less time in court. By doing this, you may be able to schedule a half-day of work.
Once your case is called, you may enter a variety of pleas. Those include: guilty, not guilty or no contest. Keep in mind that a guilty plea is a complete admission of guilt. A no contest plea is that you are NOT disputing the facts read into the record by the prosecutor and you will most likely be found guilty. A no contest plea is not an opportunity for you to dispute the facts or offer up any evidence on your behalf. If you wish to do that, your must plea not guilty and set the case for trial. A plea of not guilty is that you dent the charges and all elements of the offense.
Most of our clients plea not guilty. We then appeal the Administrative License Suspension (“ALS”) with the court. We present oral arguments on why the officer did not have reasonable grounds to place the client under an initial suspension. The court listens to the argument, gives the prosecution the opportunity to respond and then rules on the motion. If granted, the ALS may either be terminated or stayed. If terminated, you will no longer be under a suspension and can go obtain a valid driver’s license immediately provided that court hasn’t placed a judicial safety suspension on you.
If the ALS is stayed, the ALS is not terminated but “put on the shelf” pending outcome of a hearing. This would allow you to go to the BMV and obtain a valid driver’s license allowing you to drive unrestricted while the case is pending.
If the appeal is denied and limited privileges are granted, a you are allowed to drive for the specific purposes outlined on the document. Under no circumstances should you deviate from the parameters set forth in the entry granting your privileges. Further, you must take the most direct route between any addresses listed on the limited driving privileges paper.
Your case is then sent to the assignment office and placed in line to be permanently assigned to a judge. It is unlikely that the judge in the arraignment room will be the assigned judge. It typically takes about two days for the assignment office to set your case for a pre-trial conference. The pre-trial conference is most often scheduled about 4-6 weeks after the arraignment date. This is normal and you should keep in mind that things move very slowly initially in an OVI case.