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Being arrested is a terrifying experience for most people. While going through booking and other processing it’s not unusual to feel as if the situation is utterly hopeless. However, it’s important to realize that an arrest is merely the beginning of a longer process, and that a conviction is by no means a foregone conclusion. An arraignment is the first step in this process. Hiring a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to handle the arraignment is the best way to ensure that your rights are protected and that you have the best possible opportunity to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.
The Arraignment in California Criminal Matters
The arraignment is the defendant’s first opportunity to appear before the judge. It is a formal court proceeding where a number of important things happen. A review of your Constitutional rights is one of these. According to the law, every defendant is entitled to be represented by legal counsel. They have protections against self-incrimination and they may also have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. Defendants are entitled to a speedy trial where they are able to produce witnesses and also confront them, if necessary. While the court will read these rights to the defendant, more clarity and greater understanding can be had through working with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Your legal counsel can ensure that you not only know your rights but also have the opportunity to use them to the fullest extent of the law.
When Does the Arraignment Happen?
State law mandates strict guidelines regarding when arraignments must happen. If you have been arrested on misdemeanor charges, then you were probably released after being booked at the jail. This means that your arraignment will be pushed out for at least 10 days after your arrest. More serious charges may require that you be held in custody prior to the arraignment. In these cases, you must appear before a judge within 48 hours or two court days. This 48-hour period does not include weekends and holidays. If a defendant in custody is not put before a judge within 48 hours, then the police are leaving themselves open to a charge of unlawful detention. Such charges may entitle the defendant to civil damages, but do not usually result in dismissal of the charges that led to the arrest. Defendants who are released on bail shortly after arrest are not subject to the 48-hour period and will receive a Notice to Appear informing them of when their arraignment will take place.
California Arraignment Options
Your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney has a great deal of work to do at your arraignment. In addition to protecting your Constitutional rights, your attorney will assess the evidence that the District Attorney’s office has in relation to your case. Your lawyer will also receive and consider the District Attorney’s offer for early resolution. While putting an early end to the proceedings may sound attractive to you, the reality is that the prosecutor may not be offering the best possible deal. Keep in mind that the District Attorney has dozens of cases on their docket. It’s in their best interests to prevent as many of these matters from going to trial as they can. While this might make it seem as though the DA would offer you a spectacular deal, this is rarely the case. Only a knowledgeable California criminal defense lawyer is qualified to provide advice regarding whether or not a plea deal should be taken. With their guidance you’ll know you’re making the right decision.
Entering a Plea
Defendants have the right to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest at the arraignment. Alternatively, your defense lawyer may ask for a continuance to gain more time to review the plea deal offered by the DA. Without the help of a criminal defense attorney it isn’t possible to truly understand the possible ramifications of these pleas. Their advice can make clear which option is right for you.
Entering a guilty plea essentially means that you committed the crime of which you are accused and that you are prepared to accept the sentence from the court. This essentially ends your case, with the judge perhaps immediately sentencing you. A not guilty plea means that you will be given additional court dates for a pre-trial hearing, meaning that your attorney and the DA will continue to investigate and negotiate as they prepare to take the case before a jury. Alternatively, the defendant may enter a plea of no contest, which is similar to a guilty plea but cannot be used against you if a civil lawsuit is filed.
Each of these potential pleas carries with it certain consequences. Only your experienced, knowledgeable Los Angeles arraignment attorney is qualified to fully advise you of all of your opportunities. When you are informed regarding the risks and benefits of each of these pleas, then you can make a well-considered decision that is in your best interests.
Los Angeles Arraignment Attorneys Working For You
Remember that the police and the District Attorney are not on your side. They have intimate knowledge of the justice system and they will use that against you. You deserve the assistance and advice of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Contact us today if you are facing an arraignment in the Los Angeles area.