An arraignment is when you go before a judge to make a plea of guilty or not guilty. This is the first of possibly many times you’ll have to go to court for your case. Most defendants plead not guilty at this point, though some will plead guilty. Arraignment also includes setting a date for your next procedural event and making bail requests. The judge will consider these things to come up with a decision. This is only the case if you plead not guilty. If your plea is guilty, you will typically set a date for sentencing.
Although many defendants can handle arraignment on their own, it might benefit you to have a lawyer at your side. If you don’t have a lawyer, arraignment is a time that the court will appoint you one. In either case, it’s often more beneficial to have representation, as a criminal defense lawyer, such as from Daniel J. Wright, can explain.
How To Find a Private Lawyer
If you want to head into your arraignment prepared with an attorney, you’ll need to hire one first. If you’re unsure where to turn, there are a few places where you can go to find an attorney:
- Family or Friend Referrals – If you know of any family members or friends who have dealt with a situation similar to yours, you could ask for some referrals. Keep in mind there are a lot of personalities out there. Just because your friend recommends one attorney, doesn’t mean your personalities will go well together. Use good judgment to make that decision.
- Family or Friend Lawyers – You might have some friends or family members who are actually lawyers. Especially if your friend or family member is a criminal defense lawyer, this could be your lucky day. If the individual is not a criminal defense lawyer, he or she may have a friend or colleague who can help you out.
- Referral Services – Be careful when working with a referral service, as some don’t screen their attorneys very well. It could still be a good way to read some reviews and learn more about some other attorneys you’ve been referred to.
If you want to represent yourself, that might be OK. The judge will probably conduct an evaluation to determine whether you’re competent enough to do so. The evaluation could include an assessment of your understanding of your crime, your understanding of the English language, the level of your education and other similar issues.
Contacting a Lawyer Today
If you’ve been charged of a crime, don’t walk into your arraignment on your own. Contact a criminal justice lawyer today to get a legal professional on your side.