What Is An Arraignment?
What is an arraignment? The Waltman Firm in Forsyth can break it down for you. Get empowered with legal knowledge and take control of your case. Call us today.
Understanding the Arraignment Process In Georgia
An arraignment is the first court hearing in the criminal process where a criminal defendant appears before a judge. During the arraignment, a defendant is informed of the charges against them and their constitutional rights. The defendant will also enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If a plea of no guilty is entered, the judge will decide whether to set bail. If bail is granted, the defendant can be released until their next court date.
If the defendant doesn’t have or can’t afford an attorney, a court-appointed attorney will be provided. However, having an attorney present at the arraignment is crucial. The defendant’s attorney can file the necessary motions before, during, or after the arraignment hearing. In Georgia, all pre-trial motions and demurrers (i.e., objection pleas) may be filed within ten days from the arraignment date.
If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in Forsyth County, Georgia, the Waltman Firm can help you. We can make a difference at your arraignment.
What Happens During an Arraignment?
An arraignment is the start of the criminal court process. During the arraignment hearing, the defendant appears before a judge. At the arraignment, the following happens:
- The judge informs the defendant of the charges against them. They also inform them of the possible penalties following a conviction. The judge also advises them of their constitutional rights, including the right to a jury trial and speedy trial.
- The defendant responds to the charges by entering a plea. They could plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or, in some cases, “no contest.” A not-guilty plea allows the defendant to contest the charges and proceed to trial
- The judge sets a sentencing hearing date if the defendant pleads guilty or no contest plea. However, after a not-guilty plea, the judge sets a trial date.
- The court addresses the defendant’s release options if the defendant is in custody. The defendant may be released on their own recognizance, where they promise to return to court on the set date, or on bail, where they may post the set bail amount as a release condition.
- The judge sets future court dates for other proceedings depending on the plea.
When Does an Arraignment Take Place?
A first court appearance would happen within 48 hours of the arrest if the defendant were arrested without a warrant and 72 hours if arrested on a warrant. However, if the defendant was released on bail after the arrest, the arraignment could occur several weeks later.
How Can I Waive an Arraignment?
Your lawyer may file a waiver of arraignment in writing if you wish to not attend this hearing. Instead, your lawyer will file all the necessary documents, motions, and your plea to the court in writing.
How Do Pre-Trial Release Conditions Work?
An arraignment may include setting conditions of pre-trial release. The judge may release the defendant on their personal recognizance or set bail/bond. They usually consider the following conditions before the release:
- Whether the defendant poses a threat to the community
- The defendant’s criminal record
- The defendant’s employment and community ties
- The defendant’s court appearance history
How Does Arraignment for Juveniles Work?
A juvenile arraignment is the initial court appearance in the juvenile court process. During an arraignment, the judge informs the child of the charges against them and their legal rights. They will also be informed of the consequences of adjudication (a conviction in adult court) if found guilty.
Like in adult criminal proceedings, the juvenile should be read their constitutional rights. Juveniles are entitled to the same protections and rights as adult defendants, except the right to a jury trial. These include:
- The right to legal counsel
- The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses
- The right to remain silent
- The right against self-incrimination
During the arraignment, the child is asked to enter a formal plea, which can be:
- Guilty: Admitting to the charges
- Not Guilty: Denying the charges and opting for a trial
- No Contest: Neither admitting nor denying the charges but accepting the consequences
The judge may decide whether to place the juvenile in a detention center. They may also release the child to their parents or guardians or release them on bail pending further proceedings. Depending on the plea, the case proceeds to:
- A dispositional hearing if the child pleaded guilty or no contest. During this hearing, the judge will pronounce the appropriate sentence.
- An adjudicatory hearing (trial) if the child pleaded not guilty. Juvenile trials are held before a judge, not a jury, and they involve hearing the testimonies of the witnesses and victims.
In every case, any person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, if your child is facing juvenile charges, whether for felony or misdemeanor offenses, in Forsyth County, it’s advisable to consult experienced juvenile crime lawyers.
How Can an Attorney Help During An Arraignment?
If you are facing criminal charges, having an experienced defense attorney from the very start is crucial to your case’s success.
A skilled attorney can help you in the following ways during your arraignment:
- Convince the judge to set bail
- Negotiate a lower amount of bail and more favorable release conditions
- Prepare and file the necessary motions
- Protect your rights
- Negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor.
Having a defense attorney is especially critical in felony cases, given the more severe penalties of a conviction. While court-appointed attorneys can be helpful, they may not have experience handling similar cases to yours.
The Waltman Firm Can Help You
If you have a criminal case in Forsyth County, contact our criminal defense attorney at the Waltman Firm. We are here to protect your rights and provide the guidance you need. Regardless of the nature of your charges, do not hesitate to seek legal help.
We will work to get your charges dismissed or reduced. We have a proven track record in getting cases set aside. Contact us to schedule a consultation.