The arraignment is usually your first court appearance in a criminal case. There are two ways to get to this stage. The first, obvious, way is after being arrested. Another way is to get “summonsed” into court – more plainly, you get a letter in the mail informing you of a court date.
At the arraignment, you will be called up in front of the judge. The court clerk will read the charge(s) against you. This is when you are officially charged. [On occasion, we have been able to get charges dismissed prior to arraignment – which can be a huge victory for client, as their criminal record remains clean.] The prosecutor will sometimes read a portion of the police report, and can ask the judge to set bail. If bail is requested, having an attorney will be very beneficial. Your attorney will try to persuade the judge not to hold you on bail, or to lower the requested amount, depending on the circumstances.
Once you are called in front of the judge, the actual arraignment process may be relatively quick. You can generally expect to be standing up for a few minutes or so. But in those few minutes, the judge’s decision regarding bail, and/or the terms of your release, can have a major impact on your freedom. In that instant, having a strong advocate – an experienced criminal defense attorney – on your side is very beneficial.
Going forward procedurally, you will enter a plea of “not guilty.” Finally, the court will set a date for you to return for the next step in the process – a pre-trial conference (some courts call it a pre-trial hearing).
If you have an arraignment coming up, contact our experienced MA criminal defense attorneys today at (781) 797-0555 for a free phone consultation.