– from Kimberly W. in Ottawa, WI
I was charged with a crime a few months ago, and I have my arraignment hearing today. I have not yet paid or been given an amount for bail. What happens at the arraignment hearing?
Criminal Defense Attorney Response:
In a criminal hearing the arraignment is the process when are defendant is read the charges against them and when the defendant responds to the charges with a plea. The defendant will usually enter the plea “not guilty” but they can also plea guilty.
This is the first step in the criminal process after the arrest was made. In most cases is the a very brief hearing.
Arraignments are conducted after the suspect is arrested and booked by the police department or law enforcement agency.
Sometimes an arraignment hearing will take place after some time after the arrest. The reason for this is the prosecuting attorney must decide to file charges against the defendant.
Appearance before the judge is typical at the arraignment. When appearing before the judge the defendant can appear alone, or may bring a criminal lawyer to represent them. The judge will ask the defendant if the person appearing in court is the person identified in the charges. Additionally the judge will ask the defendant if they are guilty or not guilty.
Some items defendants should do immediately after the arraignment hearing are as follows:
- Obtain qualified legal representation.
- Understand the criminal process (from arraignment to appeal). – Don’t make the mistake many defendants make and compromise your defense because of ignorance.
- Question an attorney in every step of the process. Ask questions frequently. This is the best way to ensure you understand the consequences of your decisions.
- Assist in the case preparation by understanding every option available. – Exploring all the options prior to acting will be invaluable.
- The defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. “
Jeff Hughes, J.D.