The arraignment is the first court appearance you will make when you are facing criminal charges.
An attorney from the Public Defender’s Office will be there to represent you at your arraignment.
Before going before the judge, you will meet with your attorney. There are a number of things that will be discussed during this meeting:
- The attorney will obtain contact information, background information, and financial information from you. This information is used to assist the attorney with the arraignment, and to determine whether you are indigent and qualify for an appointed attorney going forward on the case.
- The attorney will review the charge(s) in the complaint or ticket to assure that you understand the charge(s) and the potential penalty relating to each charge.
- The attorney will make sure that you understand your rights as a person charged with a crime.
- The attorney will discuss bond with you. The judge is required to set a bond during your arraignment. The primary purpose of bond is to make sure you appear for your court hearings. There are a number of factors the judge considers in deciding the bond. These include the seriousness of the offense, your prior criminal record (if any), your ties to the community, your employment, and any prior history of appearance or nonappearance for court cases.
At the arraignment, the judge will confirm your contact information with you. The attorney will then do most of the talking for you. The attorney may ask the judge to read through all of the details of the charges on the record, and to read your trial rights. However, your attorney will generally waive a formal reading of the charges and your rights, and enter a plea of Not Guilty for you. The Court will then schedule your next court date(s) on the record.
Next, the Court will set bond on your file. Your attorney and the prosecutor will be given a chance to advocate regarding the amount of bond. The judge can also place conditions on your bond, such as no alcohol, marijuana or drug use, random testing, and no contact with a victim in a case involving an assault.
At the conclusion of the hearing, you will be given a written copy of the notice to appear for your next court date, and paperwork describing the bond and any conditions on the bond ordered by the judge.
In some cases, the Public Defender may be able to negotiate a resolution of your case with the prosecutor on the date of the arraignment. Generally, this only occurs on cases involving minor traffic offenses. If a resolution is reached, that plea agreement is placed on the record before the judge, and the judge will then impose sentence.