An arraignment is a critical — and initial — component of the California criminal process. Here’s what you need to know about it and how you can prepare for the best possible outcome.

The Purpose of An Arraignment

The first hearing you have after being arrested is called the arraignment. At this court hearing, you will be told what criminal charges you face, which may or may not be what the police told you when you were initially taken into custody. Then, you’ll answer preliminary questions about your employment, identity, etc.

Do You Need an Attorney At This Stage?

At your arraignment, you can hire your own lawyer or use the public attorney that is provided at no cost to criminal defendants. Generally, you won’t need to tell anyone whether or not you need a lawyer; one will usually already be in attendance and can offer you legal representation.

That said, this isn’t necessarily in your best interests. Public attorneys tend to be inexperienced, new lawyers who have yet to truly get their feet wet in the legal field. You may not want to hand your future over to them, especially if the charges are serious.

Posting Bail or Being Released

After your charges have been read and you state that you understand them, and your information is obtained, the judge will decide whether or not to release you or keep you in custody on bail. This decision is made using the following considerations and more:

  • If you are believed to be a flight risk
  • If you have already been charged with a crime
  • If the crimes you are charged with are felonies or you are considered a threat to others

In cases where the above are true, a judge is likely to decide to keep you in custody. The more egregious the accusations against you, the higher your bail is likely to be.

What Happens After the Arraignment?

Once the arraignment has ended, you will be issued documents that provide you the details of your next hearing, such as date, time, and location. You must attend this hearing; the consequences of a no show are steep and include being held in contempt of court and/or having a warrant issued for your arrest.

Facing Criminal Charges? Get Legal Help Now

After being arrested for a crime, it’s critical to act quickly to get legal representation you can trust. Jennifer Mouzis is an experienced Sacramento criminal defense lawyer who can help. Call Mouzis
Criminal Defense at (916) 822-8702.