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What is the Arraignment?

When someone has been arrested for an alleged criminal offense, naturally they’ll want to know when they will be brought in front of a judge. They want to know what they’re being charged with, and whether there’s a chance they can be released on bail while they wait for their next court appearance.

In Texas, this first court appearance is referred to as the “arraignment,” and under Article 26.01 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, arraignments occur in all felony cases and all misdemeanor cases where the offense is punishable by imprisonment.

Under Article 26.03 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the arraignment does not occur until at least two days have elapsed since the defendant was served a copy of their indictment, unless the defendant is on bail, or unless the defendant’s right to such a delay has been waived due to a “waiver of arraignment.”

While it varies between jurisdictions, the arraignment is usually 48 to 72 hours from the arrest.

What to Expect from the Arraignment

Whether the defendant is facing state or federal charges, their first court appearance (the arraignment) is the time and place where the defendant is advised by the court of their criminal charges, as well as their constitutional rights, such as the right to be represented by legal counsel.

During the arraignment, the court may:

  • Ask the defendant if he or she intends to be represented by a lawyer.
  • Ask the defendant for their plea.
  • Decide whether to set bail, and if so, how much.
  • Determine if they will release the defendant.
  • If a release is possible, set conditions on the defendant, such as restricting travel or prohibiting them from contacting the victims.
  • Schedule dates for future court hearings, such as the date of a preliminary hearing.

During the “arraignment,” charges are formally pressed against a defendant. However, sometimes charges will change. In that case, the court may have to arraign the defendant again, long after their initial arraignment (unless the prosecution and defense have reached a plea bargain). Often, the defendant will plead “not guilty” to the subsequent charges.

If you have been arrested in Plano, Dallas or Ft. Worth, contact a criminal defense attorney from The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC at once. We can work towards getting you out of jail, explain the applicable law in your case, and provide a hard-hitting defense!