Arrested for Traffic or Misdemeanor in DC - the process

What happens if I am arrested for a Traffic or DC Misdemeanor Offense in the DC

Arrested for Traffic or Misdemeanor in DC –  what is the process? Although it seems common knowledge to most criminal lawyers in the District of Columbia, the general public rarely has a clue of what happens if you are arrested in the District of Columbia for a traffic or misdemeanor.  This article helps explain arrest in the District of Columbia for Traffic and DC Misdemeanor Offenses.

Arrest Powers:

District of Columbia is unlike any other state because there are so many different law enforcement agencies.   Metropolitan Police Department , U.S. Park Police, U.S. Capitol Police, Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Secret Service and other police agencies all have the power to arrest an individual if the police officer has probable cause to believe a criminal offense occurred in his/her presence.

Upon Arrest

If you are arrested on a Traffic or DC Misdemeanor charge you may be taken into custody.  The arresting officer will take you to the appropriate police district station to process the arrest.  Processing arrest includes filling out reports, describing the reason for arrest, and getting identifying information about you.  To this end you may be fingerprinted for identification purposes.

Field Arrest Form

If you are released by the officer in the field, the officer will tell you to appear within 2 weeks at the police station in the Police District in which you were arrested.  When you appear at the station, you must chose to post and forfeit or contest the charges in Court.

  1. Post and Forfeit: means you must pay the established fine and the case will be over.  This option is available for many DC misdemeanor charges and for a limited number of criminal traffic charges.  List of post and forfeit charges:  DC POST & FORFEIT LIST.  If you post and forfeit and later change your mind and wish to contest the charge you must do so within 90 days of the decision to post and forfeit
  2. Contest the Charges in Superior Court: If you chose to contest the charges, you will be given a citation release form with a date on which you must appear in court.  If you fail to appear in court on that date the court will issue a bench warrant and you subject yourself to additional charges.

Taken into Custody:

Citation Release

If you are afforded the option to post and forfeit and not considered a flight risk, the police may give you a citation release.   Citation release may be denied if you appear not to understand the nature of obligations of citation release (if you are intoxicated or impaired) or if you fail to cooperate with the booking process or for other reasons the officer deems necessary.    Your date to appear will be approximately 21 days after the initial arrest.  Again if you fail to appear for your court date a bench warrant may be issued.


If you are not afforded citation release you may be detained overnight and brought to court on the next business day.  (Court is open everyday except Sundays)

Arrested for Traffic or Misdemeanor in DC – Need more information – Please feel free to contact us

[wpseo_address show_state=”1″ show_country=”1″ show_phone=”1″ show_phone_2=”0″ show_fax=”0″ show_email=”0″]