If this is your first time being arrested for a crime, the entire legal process could be scary and confusing for you. After you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you will receive an arraignment date. This will be the first time you will go to court and face a judge. Your criminal lawyer will help to prepare you for this first meeting, but you might wonder what exactly is an arraignment and what can you expect.
Here is some information on what an arraignment is and what you can expect at this hearing.
What Is an Arraignment?
As previously mentioned, an arraignment is the first court hearing you will have with the judge. There is usually no jury at this point, and if it will be a jury trial they will be chosen once you have a trial date set. This could be months to even years from the arraignment date. This is typically due to the number of cases that need to be tried before yours and/or how long it will take for the prosecution and defense to develop their cases to bring to court.
You will receive your arraignment hearing date when you have been arrested and given a citation from the police. This could be right away on the day of your arrest, or in some cases, it could be several days later.
What Can You Expect?
An arraignment hearing usually isn't a long one. You, your criminal lawyer, and the prosecution lawyer will attend. The judge will read out the charges against you. In some cases, the prosecution will add any additional information they wish to add to any existing information on the charges already listed. At this point, once you have all the information on the charges against you, you will be asked if you plead guilty or not guilty. It is usually best to plead not guilty as it gives you the right to defend yourself in court. At this point, you will receive a trial date from the judge and be told whether you will receive bail or be remanded into custody.
Will You Have Bail or Be Held in Custody?
For most charges, you will likely be released to go home to wait for the trial. In certain circumstances, however, it is possible that you may be held in custody. This means you will have to stay in jail until your court date. This is typically only done in serious criminal cases such as murder or drug trafficking where they believe you are at high risk to re-offend or to flee from the law.
You could also have certain bail conditions placed on you. This means, if you were charged with a DUI for example, you can't drive at all, you can't drink or take any type of drugs unless they are prescribed. You may also be placed under supervised release. This means you must check in with a probation officer while you wait for your trial to begin.
If you were charged with assault or domestic abuse, you might be ordered to have no contact with the person you are accused of assaulting. You could be issued a no-contact order and if that order is violated, you could spend the rest of your time before trial in jail.