Do You Need an Attorney at Your Arraignment?
Most people are not very familiar with the criminal justice system. After all, most people never expect to ever be arrested. Chances are good that if you have never been accused of a crime, you do not know what an arraignment is. So you probably have no idea whether you should have an attorney present at your arraignment. This guide will explain everything you need to know, from what it is to how important having an attorney is.
You can think of your arraignment as your first court appearance. After being arrested, you may or may not be held in jail, depending on the severity of the crime you are accused of. If you have to stay in jail, you are essentially waiting for your arraignment. Otherwise, you will be told when to appear in court. At the arraignment, three important things will happen:
- You will enter a plea
- Bail and your trial date will be set
- You will be given the option to receive a public defender
First, you need to either plead guilty or not guilty. If you intend to contest the charges against you, plead not guilty. If you would rather just take whatever consequences you are facing, you can plead guilty and be done with it. Bail will only be set if you are being held in jail. Bail is essentially a fee you can pay to leave jail and wait for your trial in your own home. Finally, you can tell the court whether you would like a public defender.
Having an Attorney Present
So, now that you understand what happens at an arraignment, is having an attorney present necessary or beneficial? It is definitely not necessary to have an attorney, evidenced by the fact that this is the time when a public defender is assigned in case you cannot afford a private attorney.
It is also not very beneficial for an attorney to be present simply because there is not anything for an attorney to do. It is not complicated to enter a plea, so an average person can do it. It is highly beneficial to talk with an attorney prior to your arraignment, however, so you can get some expert advice about which plea to enter. If you really want to have your attorney present for support, it will be allowed. However, you will have to pay your attorney for very little benefit. It is always a good idea to speak with a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA as soon as possible, but do not feel like you need one present at your arraignment.
Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and having an attorney at your arraignment.