What is an Arraignment?
Before a criminal case is tried in a court of law, an arraignment is held. An arraignment is a short hearing that officially starts the courtroom proceedings against a criminal suspect. During an arraignment:
- The suspect is formally charged with a criminal act and is further referred to as the defendant. A written charge is presented to the defendant, who answers the charges with a plea of guilty or not guilty. The defendant may request an interpretation of the charges or an explanation of the laws surrounding them.
- The judge determines if the defendant is eligible for bail.
- The defendant is given a schedule of activities that includes the trial date.
- The defendant is advised to obtain the representation of a defense attorney. If the defendant can not afford legal representation, the presiding judge may assign him to a public defender.
A Defendant’s Rights During the Arraignment Process
Any person who is jailed for criminal activity usually has an arraignment within 48 business hours of the incarceration. In complex cases, the suspect’s defense attorney may request a delay of the arraignment for the purpose of legal research. A defendant’s lawyer may sometimes be permitted to appear at an arraignment without his client.
In this situation, lawyers cannot respond with a plea on behalf of the defendant unless the accused lives an unreasonable distance away. Criminal charges are rarely dismissed by a judge during an arraignment, but it does happen. If a defendant’s private attorney can prove that the charges are completely unfounded, the judge has the option of voiding the case.
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Self Representation During a Criminal Arraignment
If a defendant does not obtain the representation of an attorney for the arraignment, it is possible for him to represent himself in a court of law, but this is not suggested. People who represent themselves in any court proceedings may jeopardize their chances of winning.
A skilled and experienced defense attorney may come across an error in the legal process that can benefit his client. Additionally, a defense attorney can negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution if necessary.
A person’s decision to forgo legal counsel at an arraignment can have detrimental effects on his case.
To get more information on the arraignment process, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Madrid Law by calling 713-877-9400.