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The importance of the arraignment

If a person has been arrested for a crime such as assault in New York state, the arraignment will typically arrive quickly, perhaps in less than 24 hours. However, the short time between arrest and arraignment is important because a defendant may otherwise be waiting in a jail cell for the opportunity meet the judge.

The arraignment is very significant because it allows the defendant certain rights, including the following:

  • Learning of the precise charges against him or her
  • Learning of the right to an attorney
  • Making an initial decision on the plea

The defendant will also have the opportunity to seek bail.

Arraignment allows defendant to learn what his rights are

At the beginning of the arraignment, the defendant learns of the charges against him or her. The court will also inform the defendant of other important rights including the right to trial and the right to have an attorney.

Defendant makes an initial plea at the arraignment

The arraignment is also the day the defendant initially decides whether to plead guilty or not guilty to one or more charges. If he pleads guilty, no trial will be necessary on the charge and he can move on to the sentencing phase.

Otherwise, he or she will plead not guilty and pre-trial activities will begin. Those will include the sharing of discovery so the defendant can learn what evidence actually exists against him. It may also be a time period where the state and the defense each file motions seeking preliminary orders from the court.

Defendant may secure his freedom on bail at arraignment

The arraignment is also the time to seek bail, if necessary. Without bail or other release pending trial, a defendant will remain incarcerated until trial which can be quite some time.

As such, in order to live his life as he knows it while waiting, a defendant will typically be very interested in securing his own release on bail if he is not pleading guilty to the charge. Bail amounts can be high or relatively low, depending on the charges and surrounding circumstances. The defense attorney will strive for low bail or no bail to allow the client the best chance of release. There is also the possibility of no bail, where the court releases the defendant on his or her own recognizance.

At arraignment, the defendant’s attorney may also take the opportunity to discuss the matter with the prosecutor prior to appearing before the judge, which can lead to more favorable possibilities regarding bail or plea.

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