When a person is accused of wrongdoing, the criminal-legal process can seem daunting and confusing. You’ve been given a first court date, what can you expect?
In the criminal justice system, the first court date is an arraignment. Your attorney will tell you whether you need to be present or not for this case. Normally in a felony case you must be present and in misdemeanors you don’t need to be. There are some exceptions, for example in domestic violence cases you will need to be present, in most cases, even in misdemeanors.
An arraignment is a short proceeding during which the judge gathers basic information, reads the criminal charges against the defendant and asks if the client has an attorney.
If the defendant does not have an attorney and is unable to afford one, the court will appoint an attorney to represent him or her. The Judge may at times also review the bail amount in these appearances as well as set future court dates for pretrial conferences and motions. In many ways, the arraignment sets the road map for how the rest of the criminal case is determined.
Being arrested, especially for the first time, can be a scary proposition. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn what to expect during an arraignment and to better understand the legal complexities of your case.