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What is an Arraignment Process?

Arraignment is an appointment before a judge to hear the formal charges against a person. Generally, this is a short session with the opportunity to plea against the charges. However, there may be a combined hearing on bail if the charges are felony related. There are three different pleas that a person can make: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Typically, most people will plead not guilty to allow themselves more time to retain an attorney if they wish the charges to go to trial. However, some people choose to plead guilty and get the charges taken care of and put behind them. Below are some typical questions that have been answered by Experts.

Does a person have to attend an arraignment if they have filed an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) application and waiver?

If you have not received notice that the waiver has been granted or if the application has been received, you should appear. It is best to appear because there is always the chance that your information could be lost or misplaced. The day before the hearing, you could check online or contact the clerk of court to see if the application was received by the court and see if you can enter the ARD program. When you appear in court, you should inform the court that you want to enter the program. The court will tell you what steps need to be taken.

What should one wear and expect at an arraignment with no attorney?

You should wear appropriate clothing when going to court. Dress pants and a button down shirt is usually the better choice. You should never wear casual clothing or shoes such as flip flops, tanks or shorts. While a suit and tie are not required, you should always try to look your best when going to court. At the arraignment, the judge will read the charges against you and you will be given the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, another court date will be set for the hearing. If you choose to plead guilty or no contest, the court will give you an offer to end the case and close it out. Also, if you cannot afford an attorney, you can request that the court appoint you a public defender.

How to reschedule an arraignment to allow time to hire an attorney when the court docketing won't allow it?

The first thing you need to do is contact the judge in the case and ask that the arraignment be rescheduled. The final decision is up to the judge, not the court clerk. If you appear at the hearing, you need to plead not guilty and you will be given a trial date. Once the date has been set, you can hire an attorney to try the case or try and resolve it. Another option would be to find out what type of deal you would receive if you were to plea without an attorney.

Does an offender have to appear for an arraignment if they have a private attorney?

It is very important for you to appear at the arraignment. You will have to enter a plea and when you appear, the judge tends to be more agreeable to listen to both sides rather than just the prosecutions side. While it is true that you don't have to appear if you have private representation, you will send a more positive sense of responsibility to the judge by appearing. This is why it is so important to appear before the judge during the arraignment.

Is a case ever thrown out at an arraignment?

Some cases are thrown out during the arraignment stage. Usually, this happens when the defense attorney approaches the prosecution with evidence of their client's innocence. If the prosecution agrees, both parties will go before the judge during the arraignment and explain that they both agree the charges should be dismissed. Typically, this is the only way a case is thrown out during an arraignment. Even if there was plenty of evidence present at the arraignment, the judge will not hear any evidence until the trial. There has to be an agreement between the defense and the prosecution that the case be dismissed.

An arraignment is the first appearance before a judge after being charged with a crime. Usually, the judge reads the charges and will ask how the person pleads. In most cases, people choose to plead not guilty in order to buy some time in order to hire an attorney and find money to pay potential fines. In the event that you are faced with an arraignment, you should ask an Expert for assistance before going before a judge alone. An Expert can offer ideas and suggestions that will best fit your individual situation.

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