What to Expect at Your Arraignment
When facing criminal charges, the arraignment remains a vital stage in the Virginia criminal justice system. During arraignment, the judge formally notifies the accused person of the charges against them and the potential penalties. In addition, the judge will advise the defendant of their legal rights, ask them to enter a plea, determine bail, and set the date for trial or preliminary hearing.
Gordon has devoted his career to defending and representing clients in their criminal cases. As a dependable Virginia criminal defense attorney, Gordon can tell you about what to expect at your arraignment and strategize an effective defense to help fight your charges. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Lynchburg and Blackstone, Virginia, and the surrounding areas of Amherst County, Charlotte County, and Campbell County.
What Is an “Arraignment?”
An arraignment is the first formal appearance of an accused person in court. It is the stage in the criminal justice system where the defendant is formally charged. At the arraignment, the offender will hear the charges against them and the potential punishments if they’re convicted. Also, the judge will advise the defendant of their rights and be required to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
When Will the Arraignment Take Place?
The arraignment will take place depending on if the defendant is held in jail or when they are released after the arrest.
Held in Jail: If the accused person is held in custody after the arrest, the arraignment will be scheduled for the next day the court will open.
Released from Custody: If the defendant is released from jail by posting bail, bail bond, or through their own recognizance, the arraignment will take place several days later.
What Occurs at the Arraignment?
If you have been arrested for a crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia, here’s what to expect at your arraignment:
Informed of the Charges: The judge will read the formal charges against the defendant at the arraignment. This is the defendant’s first opportunity to hear the allegations they’re facing.
Advised Of Legal Rights: Also, the judge will formally advise the defendant of their rights. These include the right to be represented by an attorney, the right to a fair trial, and the right against self-incrimination.
Appoint An Attorney: The court will ask whether the defendant wants to hire a private lawyer, ask the court for a public defender, or proceed without legal representation.
Enter a Plea: After the judge has read the charges against the defendant at the arraignment, they will be required to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Defendants who plead guilty or no contest will be sentenced immediately by the judge. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge will set a trial date.
Establish a Bail Amount: If the defendant hasn’t been released earlier, the judge will set a bail amount at the arraignment. The bail or bond is to guarantee that the defendant will show up for future court proceedings. The conditions to determine the eligibility and amount of bail are set out in Virginia Code Section 19.2-120.
Set Court Dates: If the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge will schedule the next court dates for the trial and preliminary hearings. Discovery, interrogatories, exchange of evidence, and plea negotiations will occur at the preliminary hearings or during pretrial. Cases that aren’t resolved at this stage will proceed to trial.
Do I Need an Attorney for the Arraignment Process?
After an arrest, you need to hire a highly-skilled attorney immediately for reliable legal representation. In fact, it is advisable that you attend the arraignment with your legal counsel. Your attorney can:
Advise you about how to answer different questions the judge asks you.
Advise you about the appropriate plea to enter, based on your unique situation.
Ensure that your legal rights are well protected.
Help file the necessary paperwork and documentation.
An attorney can help present factual evidence, assert specific defenses, and dispute the prosecutor’s statements and evidence against you. If you’re facing criminal charges or preparing for your arraignment, you should reach out to E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, today to get the skilled representation you need.
Speak With a Criminal Defense Attorney
Knowing what to expect during an arraignment can help ease your uncertainties and make your situation feel more manageable. Contact E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a reliable criminal defense lawyer. Gordon can help strategize your best defenses and ensure that your rights are respected at every phase of the legal process. The firm proudly serves clients across Lynchburg, Blackstone, Amherst County, Charlotte County, and Campbell County, Virginia.