What Happens at Arraignment?

Arraignment is when you are officially charged with a crime in front of judge.

You get to arraignment one of four ways.  The first way is a little less pleasant.

1. Worse case scenario – You are arrested and brought to court either the same day or the next day.  Here are a few scenarios where this can play out:

  • You get arrested sometime early in the morning, are booked at the police station and brought to court.
  • You get arrested at night, are booked at the police station and are brought to court when it opens in the morning.
  • You get arrested on Friday after 3 p.m., are booked, are held in jail over the weekend (hope it is not a long weekend) and are brought to court when it opens on Monday or Tuesday morning.

2. You get arrested, are brought to the police station and get bailed out of the police station on the night (or at the jail if you are being held over the weekend) and are allowed to appear in court the next time that court is in session (the next morning or first thing during the week).

The fee for the bail clerk is 40.00.  You will also have to pay any additional bail money that the clerk (who comes to set bail) deems appropriate.  If you are lucky, it will only cost you 40.00 to go home and take a shower, sleep and change before court.

3. You get arrested and are brought to the police station.  You get a summons to appear at court for a clerk’s hearing.  The police department will present evidence to the Clerk Magistrate that probable cause exists to charge you with a crime.  If probable cause is found, you will be summonsed to arraignment.

4. You get a summons in the mail to come to court on a certain day for an arraignment.  (If this happens you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether or not the complaint was validly issued.)

No matter how you get to arraignment, this is generally what happens:

  • You will dress as though you are going to an important business meeting or church.
  • You will arrive at court and check in with the probation department.
  • You will find out (either via a posted list or asking in the clerk’s office or from your lawyer) which courtroom to go to.
  • You will go and sit quietly in the courtroom until the clerk calls your name.
  • After the clerk reads the charges, you will answer ‘not guilty’, you will either be assigned a court appointed attorney (if you qualify) or you will be told that you should hire your own attorney – or be told you can represent yourself.
  • You will get a date from the clerk to appear for pre-trial conference.

If you aren’t going to qualify for a lawyer you can hire you own.  You should hire an attorney who is experienced in criminal matters.  If you have been charged with a crime, drunk driving, operating to endanger or another offense call me at 866-981-7888 or email me to set up a consultation.

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