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What is going to happen to my pending charges?

bttn_commonquestionsWhen you have been arrested or have charges pending, what happens next depends on the type of case you have and what city or parish it is in. Your first step should be to learn about your case and the options you have to defend it. The following is a brief outline of the procedures for misdemeanor, felony, and DUI/DWI cases in New Orleans. This information is provided as a means to answer some basic question you may have, and give you an idea of what to expect.

Nothing can take the place of a consultation with an experienced lawyer, so if you want to talk now, please call me immediately at (504) 571-9529, text me at (504) 237-5245, or email me using the Contact Us” form at the right of this page. I promise your request will be answered immediately.

Misdemeanor Cases in Municipal Court

If you have received a summons (or a subpoena from jail if you are arrested and released) for a misdemeanor charge in New Orleans, your case will be handled in New Orleans Municipal Court. You will be ordered to appear in court within approximately one to ten days from the date of the alleged offense. This is for your arraignment – to plead “guilty” or “not-guilty”. In most cases you should have a lawyer with you on that date to advise you as to the most appropriate plea.

If you are from out of town, you may have been ordered to appear in court after the date you are scheduled to leave town. This is not a problem if you have a lawyer. In most case your lawyer can represent you from beginning to end without you needing to go to court, and still achieve the result you need. Click here for more information about how I can help visitors and tourists from out of town with criminal cases in New Orleans Municipal Court.

After your arraignment, if you plead “not-guilty”, your case will be set for trial. At the trial your lawyer can try to negotiate a reduction or a dismissal of the charges. If that process does not achieve the desired result, you have a right to trial by a judge alone. There are no jury trials in Municipal Court.

Felony Cases in Criminal Court

If you have been arrested on a felony offense, your case a will be handled in Criminal Court court. If you have made bond on your charge, you will not have a set court date. The District Attorney will review the facts and circumstances of your case to determine if formal charges will be filed. This is an important time for you to consider hiring an experienced lawyer to represent you. It is possible to have your lawyer arrange to have the prosecution of your charges refused, or for the filing of greatly reduced charges.

If formal charges are filed you will be required to appear in court for an arraignment – to enter a plea to the charges – usually within two to six weeks from the date of the alleged offense. You will be required to have a lawyer appear with you at your arraignment. For a more detailed description of the proceedings in Criminal Court from arrest to sentencing, please click here.


If you have a 1st or 2nd Offense DUI/DWI case in New Orleans, it will be handled in New Orleans Traffic Court (3rd Offenses DWI is a felony, and is handled in Criminal Court as described above). You will receive a notice when you bond out of jail to appear in traffic court within two to three weeks of your release. As with other types of cases, your first appearance in court is for arraignment – to plead “guilty” or “not-guilty”.

With a DUI/DWI there are certain things you must do immediately to protect your driving record. You should speak to an attorney within the first few days of your release from jail in order to accomplish this. If you don’t know what those things are, please read this.

For a general overview of trial proceedings for a typical DUI/DWI case, including the administrative hearing phase of the proceedings please see this post.

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