At The Justice Firm, we understand the criminal justice process can be complex and intimidating. As trusted Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, we believe it is our job to enlighten clients regarding the process and what they can expect every step of the way. This allows our clients to be more informed and prepared, and helps alleviate some of the stress and worry. Below we will discuss the arraignment (also referred to as an arraignment hearing).Arraignment - The Initial Stage in California's Criminal Court Process
When you are charged with a criminal offense, the arraignment is typically the first court hearing, or first formal court proceeding, in a criminal law case. Several things will happen at an arraignment, including the accused individual entering a plea of no contest, guilty, or not guilty. The issue of bail and release is also determined at an arraignment hearing, as well as any future court dates. The next stage of the process following the arraignment is usually a pretrial, or if charged with a felony offense, a preliminary hearing.
If charged with a felony, defendants are required to appear at the arraignment hearing. The exception to this is if the court accepts a written waiver according to Penal Code section 997(b), which is rare. Individuals who are charged with a misdemeanor may choose under Penal Code section 977(a) to have their lawyer appear on their behalf, except in cases involving protective order violations or domestic violence.
At the arraignment hearing you will also be advised of your Constitutional rights, and learn the specific charges which have been filed against you. Once formal charges have been filed against you by the local City or District Attorney's office, the arraignment will take place shortly thereafter. California law strictly regulates when arraignment hearings take place.Felony Arraignment in California - Time Guidelines
When an individual commits a criminal offense which requires that person to remain in jail, he/she must be arraigned within 48 hours of arrest. This does not include holidays and weekends, and is the maximum length of time prosecutors and police have to place the defendant before a judge. Individuals charged with a misdemeanor crime may also be required to remain in custody, and adhere to the same 48-hour rule. However, most individuals charged with a misdemeanor are released following the arrest. In this situation, you can expect to wait for a minimum of ten days following arrest before an arraignment is scheduled.Your Rights at an Arraignment Hearing
During criminal proceedings, defendants are empowered with numerous rights by the United States and California Constitutions. You will be advised of these rights by a judge or pre-recorded announcement during the arraignment.
Some of these rights include:
The right to
- Produce and confront witnesses
- A trial by jury
- A speedy trial
- Representation by a lawyer or public defender appointed by the court if you cannot afford a private attorney.
- And, the right against self-incrimination.
Contact a Capable Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
Individuals in need of assistance with a criminal case or an arraignment can rely on The Justice Firm for unparalleled legal guidance and support. For a free consultation or to learn more about your rights and legal options, call us now at 310-914-2444.