DC Superior Court handles traffic and misdemeanor cases, juvenile matters, as well as serious felonies. A misdemeanor in DC Superior Court is any charge punishable by up to one year incarceration. DC also has 180-day misdemeanors. These are crimes punishable by up to 180 incarceration. The main effect of being charged with a “180-day offense” is that you do not have a right to a jury trial. If your misdemeanor carries the possibility of punishment greater than 180 days, your jury trial right remains in tact.
If you are arrested on a DC Superior Court charge and taken to the jail, you will see a magistrate judge the following day unless the next day is a Sunday. The DC Superior court is open on Saturday for arraignments and bond determinations. If you are arrested and the next day is Sunday, you must wait until Monday before you can appear before a judge. You should keep in mind that all calls at the jail are recorded, and that anything you say could be used against you in court.
Prior to appearing in court, you will most likely be visited by a pre-trial services officer who will collect background information on your in order to prepare a report for the judge who will evaluate your eligibility for release. The pretrial services officer should not ask you about your involvement in the charged offense, and it would not be helpful for you to volunteer any information.
Your first court appearance will be an arraignment. If you are charged with a United States Misdemeanor or felony, you will be brought to courtroom C-10 on the bottom floor of the courthouse. If you are charged with a DC misdemeanor or traffic matter, your arraignment will be in Courtroom 115, 116 or 120. If your charge is domestic violence, you will be arraigned in courtroom 119.
An arraignment is an important court date in DC Superior Court. You will be advised of the charges against you, the case is assigned to a judge and you are given your next court date, and perhaps most importantly, the judge determines whether you can be released. To make this determination, the Judge will evaluate whether you are a risk of flight or a danger to the community. If the Judge believes there are conditions he or she could impose to ensure the safety of the community and your appearance in court, he or she will most likely require those conditions as a requirement for your release. If your case is drug related, you should expect drug testing will be a requirement for your release. After your release, you will be given your next court date. Often this court date is a status date to provide the parties with a chance to resolve your case. If your case is not able to be resolved, it moves on to a trial date.