What to Expect at Your Arraignment
March 14, 2023
If you have been charged with a crime in California, you are likely feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. One of the first steps on your journey through the criminal justice system is your arraignment. Understanding what to expect during an arraignment can help ease some of the stress and anxiety associated with the process.
As a criminal defense attorney at McCready Law Group, I assist clients accused of crimes every step of the way. I help clients prepare for their arraignments and all subsequent formal proceedings in their case. If you are facing charges in Long Beach, California, or other parts of the state, including Lakewood and Cypress Hill, contact my office for legal counsel.
What Is an “Arraignment?”
An arraignment is a formal legal proceeding that marks the first time the defendant appears in court, according to the website of The Judicial Branch of California. The arraignment is the first step in the criminal justice process and sets the tone for the rest of the case. Arraignments are legal proceedings specifically designed to ensure the protection of the defendant’s rights.
When Will the Arraignment Take Place?
When a person is accused of committing an offense that requires him/her to remain in custody, California law requires the arraignment to take place within 48 hours of their arrest (excluding weekends and holidays). The rule applies to all offenses where the defendant remains in custody, regardless of whether the defendant is facing a misdemeanor or felony.
Can You Waive Your Arraignment?
Yes, California Penal Code allows defendants to waive their right to be present at the hearing of any motion or other proceedings in their criminal cases, including their arraignment. However, waiving your right to arraignment is not in your best interests unless your attorney has specifically advised you to do so.
What Occurs at the Arraignment?
At the arraignment, the prosecutor will read the charges against you and ask you how you plead. You have the right to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be convicted of the crime and sentenced immediately. If you plead not guilty, the case will move on to the next stage, which is usually a pretrial hearing.
It is important to note that you should never plead guilty at an arraignment just because you feel pressured or scared. If you do so, you will be giving up your right to a trial and could be sentenced to jail time or other penalties. You should always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before entering a plea so that you can make an informed decision about what is best for your case.
At an arraignment, the prosecutor will also ask for bail to be set. Bail is money that ensures that the defendant will return for future court dates. If the defendant does not have enough money to post bail, they may be held in jail until their trial.
What Happens if I Miss My Arraignment?
If you fail to appear for your arraignment, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. This means that if you are ever pulled over for a traffic violation or any other reason, you could be taken into custody and brought back to court. Additionally, if you have posted bail, the court may revoke your bail and issue a new bail amount that is higher than the original amount. As such, it is always in your best interest to appear for your scheduled court date.
Do I Need an Attorney for the Arraignment Process?
You have a right to an attorney at every stage of a criminal proceeding, including during an arraignment. If you cannot afford legal counsel, an attorney will be appointed to you by the court. In some cases, defendants may choose to represent themselves during an arraignment, but this is not recommended. It is always best to have an attorney by your side who can protect your interests and ensure that your rights are respected at all stages of the criminal justice process.
Protect Your Rights With an Attorney’s Advocacy
An experienced attorney can assess your situation and provide assistance throughout each step of the legal process, including your arraignment. If you are facing criminal charges, contact my law firm – McCready Law Group – to protect your rights. I can help you prepare for your arraignment and ensure that your case is handled correctly from the beginning. Get in touch today to schedule a free consultation.