If you have an upcoming arraignment, it is important to understand what to expect. It is also important to know that you should consult with an attorney before going to court if possible.
An arraignment is the first stage of a criminal case. It occurs before a judge and it is when you are officially informed of the charges against you.
While many arraignments only last a minute or two, depending on the circumstances of the charges, the prosecutor can ask for one of a few things to happen during your case.
Personal Recognizance: This is the most common request, and all it means is that you will be released with no bail and no conditions on your promise to return to court for your next court date.
Conditions of Release: This means that you don’t have to post any bail, however, you will be subject to certain conditions while your case is open. Some of the most common conditions are to remain drug or alcohol free with random screens, or to stay away from a certain person or place. If you are later found to be in violation of these conditions, the court could put you in jail for up to 90 days.
Bail: This means that you must deposit a certain amount of money with the court before you are released. This money will be returned to you at the end of the case, however, if you miss a court date, the court could keep the money.
Dangerousness Hearing: This is only available in a limited amount of circumstances. If the prosecutor requests such a hearing, you will be held in jail for 3-7 days until a hearing can take place to determine if you are a danger to the community. If the judge finds that the facts of the case determine that you are a danger, the judge may order that you be held in jail without bail for up to 120 days (180 days in Superior Court).
Everyone who is arraigned is also given a bail warning. This means that you are warned that if you are charged with a new crime during the pendency of your case then you can be held in jail without bail for up to 90 days without bail.
So, why is it important to consult with an attorney before an arraignment? First and foremost, an experienced attorney will be able to discuss your case and tell you if they expect the prosecutor to set bail or request conditions. If this occurs, your attorney can argue that you should be released without bail or conditions based on your circumstances.
Another reason to consult with an attorney before your arraignment is to see if there are any issues such as important to motions to prevent evidence from being destroyed that you need to file. Sometimes if these motions aren’t filed at your arraignment or shortly afterwards, then evidence that you need for your defense can be lost forever.
If you have an upcoming arraignment, or if you have been arraigned recently, call Attorney James G. DeGiacomo today for a free evaluation of your case.