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Arraignments are usually the first step in a criminal case. A defendant’s arraignment hearing, the judge will notify the defendant of their criminal charges and explain their statutory and constitutional rights. Subsequently, the defendant is offered the opportunity to enter their plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Pleading “No Contest” means that you accept a conviction but do not make an admission of guilt. The defendant is then advised about the consequences of their plea and is asked how they plead to the charges that have been filed against them. The defendant may ask the Court for a continuance in which to speak to an attorney before entering in a plea.

One of six different pleas can be made during the arraignment hearing, and these include:

  1. Guilty,
  2. Not Guilty,
  3. Not guilty by reason of insanity
  4. No Contest,
  5. Double Jeopardy, and
  6. Previous judgment of acquittal or conviction.

If requested, the criminal court judge may extend the defendant’s arraignment for a sensible amount of time. By way of example only, the defendant might want to consult with a criminal defense attorney after hearing their criminal charges.

California Criminal Statutes also require that the defendant is advised of the potential immigration consequences to entering a guilty plea. These outcomes may include:

  • Denial of naturalization
  • Deportation
  • Refusal of admission to the United States.

At an arraignment hearing, Defendants must be advised of the following constitutional rights:

  • The defendant’s right to an attorney,
  • The defendant’s right to not self-incriminate,
  • The defendant’s right to a speedy trial,
  • The defendant’s right to question and confront all witnesses, and
  • The defendant’s right to be released on reasonable bail.

At this point in the criminal case, the defendant should retain an experienced California Criminal Defense Attorney. Having an experienced, private defense lawyer representing you early in your case offers several benefits:

  1. Your attorney can argue for no bail or a reduction in the bail bond amount.
  2. Your defense attorney can review your case and potentially file a motion to dismiss the criminal charges for a variety of reasons.
  3. Your lawyer can review all of the prosecutor’s evidence against you.
  4. Your counsel can help you determine the best plea.

At the arraignment, Defendants are not given the time to tell their side of the story to the prosecution or criminal court judge. This is not the time to try and explain yourself. However, if you are pleading guilty to the criminal charges, you are permitted to plead guilty and provide a brief explanation.

A defendant should exercise their legal right by asking the Court for a continuance in order to consult an attorney.

It is standard for a criminal justice court judge to order bail for repeat DUI offenders and violence-related misdemeanors. In some cases, more bail is required than what was previously ordered. In some cases, the criminal justice court judge will release the defendant on their own recognizance or release the defendant with oppressive conditions.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys fight hard to resolve these issues prior to the arraignment hearing. We also work hard to prevent a criminal charge from being filed against our clients by launching a “prefiling investigation” on behalf of our clients.

It is important to understand that an arraignment is not a preliminary hearing.  Although both are pre-trial hearings, the preliminary hearing is the hearing that determines if there is enough evidence against you to warrant a criminal trial.  The judge listens to both the prosecutor’s and criminal defense attorneys’ arguments and reviews each side’s evidence before rendering a decision.

The Law Office of Wesley Schroeder is ready to get started on your case. Call (408) 277-­0377 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with our firm today.