What Is an Arraignment?
An Arraignment is the first time that you will appear in court to answer the charges brought against you.
At the first arraignment, the judge will tell you what charges have been filed against you by the District Attorney and he will ask you if you want a lawyer appointed. He will ask you if you can afford a lawyer, if you cannot, he will then appoint a public defender or he will assign you a lawyer from the local pool of defense attorneys.
No matter who defends you, your case will probably be continued for about two weeks from the date of your arraignment for what are called “further proceedings.”
In the meantime, your attorney will meet with you and discuss the police report and review defensive strategies with you. Ordinarily, the court will not consider a motion for bail until you are represented by the attorney who is going to handle your case.
Sometimes, the bail is set very high in relation to the facts and circumstances of your particular case. In this case, it may benefit you to ask for a reduction in bail before posting bail. If the bail is about as low as it is going to get, we advise our clients not to make a bail motion because the bail could also be raised.
If there are aggravating facts, the D.A. can succeed in getting the bail raised significantly. The judge who hears the bail motion is required by law to assume that the statements in the police report are true.
Benefits of a Private Attorney
A private attorney can get the proceedings moving along much more quickly. As soon as an attorney from The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates is retained, we make request for “informal discovery” on the case. If a bail motion is going to be set, we can sometimes do this informally even before your case goes to court.
We can also contact the D.A.’s office and arrange an informal conference with the judge in chambers in order to get the bail reduced. It may also be possible to get “P.R.” (on your personal recognizance) at the time of your first appearance if represented by a private, retained attorney.
Alleged Victims or Witnesses Role
In some cases, if the alleged victim or witnesses can be brought to court to talk to the judge or D.A. This can be an important factor in getting you a “P.R.” or reduced bail. A private attorney on the job immediately can begin to interview witnesses and start to work on your case while events and memories are fresh.
Another important thing that a private attorney can do for you at arraignment, is to do his best to avoid publicity for your case. It is the opinion of Tad Nelson & Associates that, rather than having you judged and hung in the media, it is better to have you out of sight and out of mind. We do our absolute best to avoid media coverage if it will not benefit the client.
After the arraignment the case is normally set for what is called “further proceedings.” This is simply a way of saying that the case is being delayed, while we gather police reports. They want the opportunity to talk with you to find out what needs to be done next on the case. Police reports are usually not available to the defense lawyer until that lawyer appears in court and tells the judge that they are going to be the attorney for the accused.
At that time, they can request the police’s information from the D.A.’s office. The “complaint” is a set of papers telling you what the charges are. A copy of the complaint is given to the defendant’s attorney at the time when he goes into the courtroom and makes a general appearance.