If you have been arrested for allegedly committing a crime, the first step in your criminal case will be the arraignment. The arraignment is the first time a defendant appears in criminal court, and you do have the right to have your attorney present at an arraignment. While it can be important to have a criminal defense lawyer in LA represent you for your first impression in court, you are not required to have a criminal defense lawyer by California or federal law.
Arraignment Timeline In California
While the police may have arrested you, the district attorney’s job is to ultimately decide what charges to file against you. Even if you were arrested for a specific crime, you may later be accused of additional or different charges in court. This typically occurs when a district attorney finds more information regarding a person following their arrest (ex. if an individual has prior convictions that may change the level of the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony). Experienced legal counsel on your side will help your chances of anticipating the unexpected at your arraignment.
Under California law, anyone that is held in custody must be arraigned within 48 hours of the arrest (not including weekends or holidays). You should also be aware that the time period from your arrest to your arraignment varies depending on the time of day of your arrest. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help determine whether or not this 48-hour rule has been upheld in your case.
If you are not being held in custody, the timeline is different depending on whether you are being charged with a felony or misdemeanor. For misdemeanor crimes, any defendant not being held in jail will not be arraigned for at least ten days after the arrest. After that ten-day period, which gives you time to find and hire a criminal defense attorney, the date the court sets can be at any time in the future. Similarly, for a felony crime, if you are not currently in custody then the court can set your arraignment for any future date, usually several weeks or even months away.
Information From The Court
An arraignment is extremely important because you will be provided with legal information regarding your case. A judge will inform you of:
- The charges against you
- Your Constitutional rights
- That you have a right to an attorney
Entering A Plea At An Arraignment
The arraignment is also when you will have to state how you plead to the charges against you by the state of California. There are three types of pleas – not guilty, guilty or no contest.
A plea of not guilty means that you are denying all the charges against you. There are several reasons to enter a plea of not guilty, mainly that you simply did not commit the crime. However, when you speak with your attorney, you may also choose to go this route either strengthen your chances of reaching a favorable deal with the prosecution. Your attorney also might not believe that the state may not be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
A guilty plea means that you admit that you have committed the crime. If you enter a guilty plea, the judge will have to question you further to make sure that you are aware of your rights and understand exactly what you are admitting to. After this, the judge will accept the guilty plea and then enter the conviction on the record.
Lastly, a defendant can enter a plea of no contest. With this plea, a defendant is stating that they do not deny the charges against them but are also not admitting guilt. There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of plea. The disadvantage is that, like a guilty plea, the judge will now convict you of the crime. However, the advantage is that you are not admitting fault, so this criminal conviction cannot be held against you in any future civil cases. Some individuals may choose this type of plea because it does not admit guilt but also wraps up the case. As a result, they will not have to continue an ongoing and potentially lengthy trial.
Regardless of what type of plea you choose, it is important to speak with a criminal defense lawyer so that you do not choose a plea that does not accurately reflect what you want in a court of law.
What Happens After An Arraignment?
Following an arraignment, if the defendant must return to court (if they plead “not guilty” or need to return for sentencing) then there are three options a judge has:
- The judge may release the defendant on his or her own recognizance, which means the court is trusting the individual to return to court on their set court date. A criminal defense attorney can make the case that you have ties to the community and should be trusted to return on your own.
- The judge can set bail, which will keep the person in jail until they can post bail. A criminal defense attorney can fight to have the judge set bail at a reasonable amount.
- Lastly, the judge can refuse to set bail which means the individual must remain in custody until their trial is completed.
Your freedom will be impacted by what the judge decides after your arraignment, therefore it is so crucial to hire an attorney to represent you in court.
The Benefits Of Hiring A Lawyer For Your Arraignment
No matter what crime you are being accused of, the arraignment is the first step in your case to determine your guilt or innocence. The plea you enter and the judgement following your arraignment will have considerable consequences on your freedom. You do not want to face such potentially life changing decisions on your own without the assistance of a lawyer.
At The Simmrin Law Group you can find an attorney that can represent you at your arraignment to help you reach the results you want. Obtain your FREE consultation today by either filling the form on the right or calling 310-997-4688 today. Help is available 24/7 so do not hesitate to call immediately.