What Is An Arraignment?
An arraignment is your very first court hearing or appearance when you face criminal charges.
The purpose of an arraignment is to inform the defendant (you) of the charge(s) against them, set a bond (for bail), and schedule the next court hearing. Generally speaking, arraignments are quick and painless, but they can be stressful, especially if you have never been in trouble before.
What Happens During an Arraignment?
Once the Judge reads you the charges, they will ask if you wish to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you are facing a felony matter, many Judges will automatically enter a “not guilty” plea for you. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Judge may also appoint an attorney for you.
Always remember, you can replace your court-appointed attorney with an attorney of your choosing at any time, and many defendants change their counsel to a lawyer they are more comfortable with after their case has begun.
You can give yourself an advantage by finding the right attorney sooner rather than later.
Why You Should Enter a Not Guilty Plea
Again, if you are charged with a felony, the Judge will most likely enter a not guilty plea on your behalf. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, however, it is in your best interest to enter a not guilty plea, as well. Whether or not you are guilty, you may wish to move the case at least as far as the next hearing, a pre-trial conference, to see if you or your attorney can work out a plea deal with the prosecutor. Sometimes, your legal team can use your plea to get you a lesser or reduced charge and/or eliminate jail time.
Get Help With Your Arraignment
If you have been charged with a crime and don’t know where to start, or you are concerned about attending your arraignment alone, contact Tanis Schultz today.
Call us at (616) 227-3737 or contact us online to speak with our experienced criminal defense team during a free initial consultation.
Our client-focused, results-driven team is committed to standing by your side during this difficult time.