At The Arraignment: What Is It And What Should You Expect?

Law Blog

If you've never been charged with any crime before, you might feel overwhelmed with the legal process. You often won't know what to expect or even what all of your rights are. One of the first things that occurs after you've been arrested is an arraignment. What happens at the arraignment, and what might it mean for you and your charges? Here's what you should know. 

What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is actually part of the criminal justice system because of a constitutional amendment. It's the first meeting you have at court where a judge presides. The reason why the arraignment occurs is so that you can hear the charges against you formally, so you aren't held in prison for an extended period of time without knowing the full reason for the arrest, especially if there are multiple charges. 

Your arraignment will occur very soon after the arrest—usually within just a few days. 

Do arraignments occur with every crime?

This varies by state, but some crimes are not serious enough to need an arraignment. Usually, if the normal conviction for a crime requires time in prison, an arraignment will occur. Sometimes, you will not complete all the stages of an arraignment at once. You might appear in court just to hear the charges and be assigned a lawyer if you cannot afford to hire your own defense. Later, you might appear again with your attorney to enter your formal plea for the crime. 

What happens during the arraignment?

Besides gaining legal representation if you do not already have a lawyer, you also are required to give your plea. Most of the time, it's better to plead "not guilty" for your crime. There are many reasons for this, including:

  1. the need to review your case with your attorney. If you haven't had a chance to do so, you may not know the details of the charges and what a guilty plea might mean for you.
  2. the need to get your affairs in order. You might have children who need care, financial loose ends to tie up, or details at work that you need to pass on to other people. Entering a "not guilty" plea gives you some extra time to take care of your other obligations. 
  3. your limited knowledge of criminal law. Many times, a charge might be too strong for the crime, or you might not deserve a harsh sentencing. When you enter a guilty plea, you admit to committing the crime. The circumstances and reasons behind it are not as important as they might be in front of a jury. 
  4. your legal standing. Legal residents who are not citizens can sometimes be deported if convicted of certain crimes. You'll want to discuss options with a lawyer before you enter a plea that you can't take back. 
  5. there's less chance of receiving a plea bargain. After the charges have been given and your lawyer is there to help you, you may have the chance to consider a plea bargain. Plea bargains usually do not occur until after the arraignment. Usually, these plea deals can mean a reduced sentence for you. 

After you give your plea, the prosecution might advocate for bail amounts, while your lawyer might advocate for reduced bail or no bail, depending on the type of crime and your previous record. Sometimes, if the crime is very serious, you might not be allowed out on bail. You might also find out the future days for further proceedings, but this is not always the case. 

For more information about what happens at an arraignment, you can contact a criminal defense attorney in your area. 


22 August 2017

Car Accident Clues

It can be hard to know what to do to protect yourself legally in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. You’re liable to be disoriented or in shock, you may be injured, and you’re surely worried about your passenger or the other driver. At least, that’s how I felt. The thing is, the things you say and do in the immediate aftermath of an accident may affect a legal case later. Depending on who’s at fault and what the laws are in your state, you may want to sue the other driver for damages, or you may find yourself being sued. My blog is designed to give you tips for a car accident lawsuit, no matter which side you find yourself on.