An arraignment refers to the first time you appear before a judge after an arrest. This should happen within the first 72 hours after your arrest. When you are taken before a judge after being arrested, you are referred to as a defendant. As a defendant, it is advisable to get a lawyer before your arraignment. If you cannot afford one, the court you appear before will offer a lawyer for you. An arraignment gives a defendant an opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty once charges are read by a prosecutor before a trial date is determined. You can get your case dismissed on an arraignment day and avoid going to trial.
Uncover all the details regarding your case before the arraignment day. This should include copies of the arresting officer’s notes, names of witnesses and their contact details, photos and videos from the crime scene, maps or diagrams the prosecution intends to use at your trial, and any written evidence on which the case will be based. Go through all the information available, and determine if there are some inaccuracies. There are some instances when the prosecution is misinformed because arresting officers may not get all the case details right. If any information contained in the crime reports is not accurate, this can be your basis to request a judge to dismiss your case during an arraignment hearing.
Read More: What Is a Court Arraignment?
Present all the information that you have gathered to your lawyer, and discuss the best way to proceed. The lawyer can file a motion to dismiss on the basis that the prosecution has based its case on false information.
Wait for the arraignment day and when the court reads your charges, your lawyer can present the information you gathered regarding your case. If the information you have is convincing, a judge can rule that the prosecution does not have adequate evidence to bring up charges against you and the case will be dismissed. In some instances, the judge may issue an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. This means that your case can be dismissed within six months from the arraignment day if you avoid arrest during this period. If a defendant gets arrested, the case will be brought up again.
John Derrick has been writing since 2004. His work has been published in "Thames Leisure Week," "Legalease," "Canary Wharf" and "City Life." Derrick holds a Master of Arts in literature from the University of London.