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State and Federal Criminal Defense Representation

What Happens at Your Arraignment in the State of California?


For a criminal trial, the arraignment is the first time the defendant is expected to appear in a courtroom for their case. At the arraignment, the judge will tell the defendant the charges they are facing, what their constitutional rights are, and that they have the right to legal counsel. If the accused cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one for them.

The defendant may then enter a plea, such as guilty, not guilty, or no contest. After the defendant enters their plea, the judge will then decide whether to release the defendant on their “own recognizance,” set bail, or send the defendant back to jail without the possibility of bail.

In hopes of a better outcome, it is wise to consider hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent your case in a court of law.

Could You Be Released after Your Arraignment?

Yes, it is possible. Your lawyer could also put in a formal request that you be released on your own recognizance. If you do not have an extensive criminal record and your case does not show a risk of not reappearing in court, a judge may be inclined to grant your release.

However, the prosecution may argue against your release, declaring you to be a flight risk. It is possible that a bail may be set, requiring you to post bond in order to secure your release from custody.

If you are granted release, you must obey all court orders and make all scheduled appearances or risk being locked up again.

Can Charges Be Dropped at an Arraignment?

It’s possible, but not incredibly likely. Every case is unique, and there exists the chance that your charges may be dismissed at an arraignment. However, even in cases where the charges are weak, and innocence appears assured, judges will typically want to hear all the facts in a pending trial.

If you feel you were unlawfully arrested, your attorney may call for a probable cause hearing at the time of the arraignment.

Could Your Criminal Defense Attorney Appear in Court on Your Behalf?

Whether you are needed in the courtroom depends largely on the charges you are facing. If you are faced with felony charges, then you will typically be required to appear in person before a judge in your case. In some cases, you may be able to file a waiver for approval not to appear or potentially appear via video.

With misdemeanor charges, you may not be required to appear in a California courtroom and instead have your attorney appear on your behalf. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including domestic violence charges and accusations of violating protective orders. In all cases, it is best to consult with your attorney before making the decision not to appear. The penalty for the failure to appear in a courtroom can result in additional charges. Contact our law firm at (949) 990-4195 for legal assistance today.

The post What Happens at Your Arraignment in the State of California? appeared first on Law Office of Diane C. Bass, A Professional Law Corporation.