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Individuals can be arrested due to the suspicion of domestic violence without having criminal charges filed against them. Following the arrest, a prosecutor will review the case and decide whether criminal charges should be filed. In cases where the prosecutor does bring criminal charges against the defendant, the defendant must appear in court on the date of the arraignment.
Arraignments are the first appearance of a defendant in court, at which time the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. Multiple important legalities unfold during an arraignment, so understanding how arraignments work is crucial.
When Will the Arraignment be Scheduled For?
After the defendant is arrested, they’ll be booked into a local jail. They might need to pay bail to secure their release from jail. The amount of bail will vary case to case depending on the charge and severity of the offense.
The arraignment date will be set after the defendant posts their bail or is otherwise released from police custody. Arraignment dates are sometimes set for weeks or even months into the future. If the defendant doesn’t have the means to post their bail, they’ll remain in jail while a prosecutor reviews the case. The prosecutor then has 48 hours to file official charges. If no charges have been filed in 48 hours, the defendant will be released.
What Can Be Expected at an Arraignment?
Attorneys are allowed to appear in court on behalf of their clients in the case of most misdemeanors. Judges exercise the right to force the defendants to be physically present if they so choose.
The arraignment will begin with the defense being provided a copy of the initial complaint and legal incident reports. When the case number is called, the defendant will enter their plea of “guilty” or “not guilty” according to their counsel. If the plea is not guilty, the court then has the responsibility of determining whether to release the defendant or set bail.
A protective order will be given to prevent the defendant from further engaging in threats, violence, stalking, or any form of harassment against the victim. Oftentimes this protective order will prevent any and all contact between the involved parties.
If the plea is not guilty, the involved parties will need to schedule a date for the pretrial. To set a trial date, the defendant may be required to waive their speedy trial rights. The victim may also be ordered to return to the court when the trial commences, provided the victim is present during the arraignment.
If the defendant pleads guilty, the court will move on to sentencing rather than scheduling a trial. Sentencing varies widely from case to case based on the offense and the severity of the offense. Felonies are sentenced more harshly than misdemeanors, while first offenses are likely to exact more leniency than a second or third offense would.
Even if the defendant is sentenced to probation rather than jail time, they will be required to complete a batterer’s course and provide progressive proof to the court that they are committed to rehabilitation. In domestic violence cases, probation periods will last at least three years. The defendant will also face a fine of at least $500, and a protective order will be put in place by the court to protect the victim.