Criminal Defense Lawyer
Key Elements of an Arraignment
Though charges and legal ramifications vary, being a defendant in a criminal case of any kind is a serious matter you never want to deal with. However, if you do find yourself involved with such a situation, it’s important to understand the process and what you face. The first step after you are charged is the arraignment, which is where you initially appear before a judge to enter a plea.
Whether you’ve been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, you can either plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. If you decide to plead no contest, you are saying you don’t wish to contend the charge. It’s an alternative to pleading guilty, though it’s not an admission of guilt. In fact, if you enter this plea, it can’t be used against you as evidence of your guilt later on.
Understanding of Charges
You have the right to know what you are being charged with and what the potential consequences will be. You’ll also be informed whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor. At this time, you’ll also be informed of your rights, which includes the opportunity to speak with an attorney and the right to remain silent.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
You probably don’t think about the importance of having an attorney until you need one. When it comes to criminal charges, a qualified lawyer in your corner can be a valuable asset. If you qualify financially, a court-appointed attorney will be provided for you to ensure your rights are upheld and that you get a fair trial. It is in your best interests to hire an attorney. This professional will apprise you of your options at the time of arraignment and what type of plea you should enter based on the case. Your attorney can provide peace of mind and confidence as you stand before a judge. However, you are not required to have your attorney present at your arraignment. If you choose not to hire a lawyer at this time, make sure you understand the charges and the potential effects of your decision.
If you plead not guilty or no contest at the arraignment, the case will go to trial. If you plead guilty, the judge will hand down sentencing. With most charges, bail will be set during the arraignment. The judge will consider many factors when setting bail, including your criminal record and the severity of the crime.
While you don’t need a lawyer by your side at your arraignment, there are many advantages to hiring legal counsel before this point. Your attorney can help you through every process of your case.