What is an arraignment, and what does it involve? An arraignment is a criminal proceeding, where the suspect, who is now a defendant, is officially informed of their charge in the charging document – a complaint, indictment, or information.
Generally, arraignments are held within 48 hours of the arrest, with the exception of weekends and holidays if the suspect is in custody. If the suspect was issued a citation, or if they bailed out, their arraignment may be scheduled for several weeks after the arrest.
Arraignments are supposed to occur shortly after an arrest so the suspect can be protected. By allowing the suspect to stand before a judge within 48 hours of their arrest, they don’t have to sit around in jail waiting, as the police gather evidence against him or her to file charges.
How Court Calendars Work
While all courts must comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that arraignments should occur as quickly as possible after arrests, it’s important that suspects understand how court calendars work.
If there is a court holiday, it can take longer for a suspect to have his or her arraignment. For example, if a suspect is arrested Thursday evening and Monday is a federal holiday, the arraignment probably won’t occur until Tuesday.
Essentially, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays do not count towards the 48 hours because they are not technically “court days.”
Typically, an arraignment involves:
- The defendant receives a written accusation from the prosecutor.
- The defendant can seek legal representation.
- The defendant enters their plea, which is usually “not guilty.”
- The judge schedules future proceedings, including the pretrial conference and preliminary hearing, etc.
- The judge may set, raise, or lower bail, or release the defendant on their own recognizance (OR).
What if I Post Bail?
When a suspect bails out, then their arraignment will take place later – usually within two weeks. From a criminal defense attorney’s perspective, this delay is not a bad thing. The 48-hour window is mostly designed to benefit jailed suspects so they don’t have to languish in jail.
Looking for a Plano criminal defense lawyer? Contact our firm to schedule an initial consultation!