What Happens at an Arraignment?

Being arrested and charged with a crime in Massachusetts sets a complex criminal justice process in motion, beginning with your arraignment hearing. During this initial court appearance, the court formally notifies you of the charges against you. During arraignment, you'll enter a plea in response to the charges, though often the court will enter a not guilty plea on your behalf. The terms of your release will also be set, including whether you will have to post bail or if the prosecution will seek to have you held in custody as a danger to the public or a specific person.

Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side during an arraignment is strongly advised. Your freedom may be at stake if the prosecutor requests bail or other conditions of release.  A lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor and advocate to the judge on your behalf, pursue pretrial motions to possibly get charges dismissed or reduced, and begin to craft an optimal legal strategy.  The most important benefit of having a skilled criminal defense lawyer is that you will not have to speak. Without knowledgeable legal guidance, you may inadvertently make statements that harm your case.

The Arraignment

If you are walking in to court after being summonsed, when you arrive you will have check in at the Probation Office.  They will take some basic biographical information and run your criminal record to give to the judge, prosecutor, and your attorney. You then go to the courtroom and sit with all the other people there to wait for your case to be called.

When your name is called, you will move to the front of the courtroom, and the charge is read. You will be informed of some of your constitutional rights, which include the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you at the arraignment. The judge will usually enter a not guilty plea on your behalf, and will ask the prosecutor if there is a request for bail or other conditions of release.

At the arraignment, you will receive a copy of the complaint, which formally states the charges against you, and the initial police report. Sometimes there will be other documents given to you, but often you will not be able to obtain more information until later in the process.  

Do You Need A Lawyer During The Arraignment?

The arraignment proceedings can significantly impact your future.  You will need a lawyer to protect your rights and advocate for your interests during this time. 

Criminal defense lawyers understand the process and the nuances of an arraignment, and can help you understand your legal rights and obligations. They can explain your charges, the potential penalties, the conditions of release that you need to follow while the case in ongoing, and the best possible defenses available to you.

Sometimes, people are not able to hire a lawyer before their arraignment. In these cases, a lawyer will be appointed for them for that day by the court, and they then are given time to hire a lawyer before the first pretrial hearing. If you have been arraigned and appointed a lawyer, you can still hire a lawyer of your choosing for the rest of the case.

Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney To Learn More

H. Ernest Stone, Attorney PC, can provide experienced representation during the arraignment process. You can get started by calling (978) 969-2890 for a free case review with a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, Ernest Stone.

Contact us today to get a free consultation

Contact our team today for a free consultation. Contact us through our website or call (978) 705 4537.

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