If a person is apprehended on criminal charges, an officer transports him or her to the police station to be booked or gives him or her a Notice to Appear. Booking usually involves being fingerprinted, having pictures taken, and doing other bureaucratic obligations.
If the individual does not post a bond, he or she is detained until his or her initial appearance, where his or her bond is evaluated. The person is soon given a court date, which is the arraignment. The individual is held in police custody during his or her arraignment with a judge.
It is in the person’s best interest to use his or her right to stay quiet except for asking for a DUI defense lawyer who knows Florida drunk driving laws. Anything the individual says to an officer or a prosecutor can be used against him or her throughout the trial.
What is an Arraignment?
An arraignment is an official court hearing where the defendant hears the charges filed against him or her by the prosecutor and must submit an official reply. In Florida, the arraignment is the initial phase in a criminal proceeding following First Appearance.
The defendant is notified at the arraignment of the charges brought by the prosecutor. For instance, a defendant who is apprehended of DUI might be officially charged by a prosecutor. The charging document is known as “Information.” The judge will read at arraignment the charges included in the information to the defendant.
What is the Main Purpose of an Arraignment?
In addition to acquainting him or herself with the charges, a defendant also familiarizes him or herself with his or her constitutional rights, including:
- The right to have an attorney.
- The court might request to understand if the defendant is going to employ a lawyer. If a defendant cannot hire a lawyer, the court might suggest a public defender.
- The defendant pleads guilty, not guilty, or no contest throughout the arraignment.
Advising the Defendant of Constitutional Rights
In Florida, courts must inform defendants of specific constitutional rights at arraignment like the right to trial, counsel, and against self-incrimination.
In a few state courts, defendants are notified of their rights as a group before appearing in front of the judge. In Florida, the defendant has a constitutional right to have a lawyer at arraignment.
If the defendant wishes to have a lawyer present, the court cannot arraign the individual without giving him or her a chance to get an attorney or selecting a public defender.
Advising the Defendant of the Charges
The court must notify the defendant at the arraignment of the charges against him or her. In Florida, the judge must read the criminal complaint, indictment, information, or another charging document to the defendant unless he or she does not want the form read.
The defendant is also allowed to get a copy of the charging document.
Enter a Plea
After the court has informed the defendant of the charges against him or her, the judge will ask him or her to plea to one of the following:
- Not guilty. Defense attorneys usually suggest that criminal defendants plead not guilty at arraignment. If the defendant makes this plea, the prosecutor must collect evidence against the defendant and then allow the defense to evaluate the evidence, investigate the case, and decide whether the evidence corroborates that the defendant is guilty. By pleading not guilty, the defendant will just make the state establish the case against him or her.
- If a defendant makes a guilty pleat at arraignment for a highly petty crime like disorderly conduct, the judge might pass judgment on the defendant at arraignment. The prosecutor and defense attorney might discuss the guilty plea and decide on a sentence during the arraignment. If the case is more severe, the judge might schedule a sentencing hearing and ask for a presentence report.
- No contest. If the defendant makes a no-contest plea, he or she accepts that the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to establish he or she perpetrated a crime but confesses guilt. When a defendant makes this plea at arraignment, the court progress just as it would progress if the individual pled guilty.
Set Conditions of Pretrial Release
In many cases, after an individual is apprehended and charged with a crime, the defendant can have a pretrial release on acceptable provisions. The court determines if the defendant should have a pretrial release, which is known as bail. The idea of bail is to safeguard the community from extreme peril and ensure the defendant goes back to court for obligatory appearances, including trial. To decide bail, the court ponders numerous factors, such as:
- The type of crime
- The quantity of evidence
- Community bonds- family bonds, duration of residence, job history, monetary resources, and psychological state
- Previous and current criminal record, including a conviction record, prior escapes to evade prosecution, or previous failure to turn up at court proceedings
- If the individual is dangerous to the community
- The financial sources to be employed to post bail.
A defendant can also presumably be released on non-monetary stipulations if the individual is not charged what the Florida Statutes define as a “dangerous crime,” such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Thus, the court might release the defendant on his or her own recognizance, without him or her having to pay bail, but will enforce other release stipulations.
When the court does demand the defendant to pay a monetary amount before being released from jail, he or she might obtain his or her release through a cash or surety bond. In every case, the court will demand the defendant to appear at obligatory court hearings and cease any additional criminal activities.
Other probable stipulations might include electronic monitoring, travel restrictions, detention to a specific residence, no alcohol or drug consumption, forbidding interaction with the crime’s victims, or partaking in pretrial investigation programs.
What is the Next Step After an Arraignment?
The pretrial conference and hearing usually are the first time, after the arraignment, which a person must reappear in court. During this phase, a criminal defense attorney and prosecutors will debate if a case can probably be resolved without trial through an agreement.
The indicted person must go to these proceedings, even though no testimony or official proceedings occur. Throughout the pretrial conference, prosecutors might propose a plea bargain or try to evade trial by suggesting pleas for minor crimes in return for liability in some feature of a specified charge or offense.
Both sides will debate information about a trial during the conference, including estimated duration and other things.
After the pretrial conference, a pretrial hearing takes place. The pretrial conference usually is the next court appearance. Here, a judge will try to settle the case without a trial, including proposing plea bargains. Throughout this session, certain motions might also be timetabled or listened to by both sides.
In Florida, if a person has been apprehended or faces criminal charges, he or she should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer will assist the individual throughout the arraignment process.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges and needs the services of an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, contact Michael Fayard, Attorney at Law at 434 S Washington Blvd Ste. 200, Sarasota, FL 34236, or schedule an appointment via phone at (941) 306-1310.
Can a Defendant Waive Arraignment?
While every unrepresented defendant must appear for his or her arraignment, the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure permits a lawyer to waive the arraignment of his or her client by filing a Written Plea of Not Guilty before the arraignment date. When this plea is filed, neither the lawyer nor the defendant is expected to appear for the arraignment. An estimated 99 percent of lawyers file such pleas and waive the arraignment of their clients.
Can Charges Be Dropped at an Arraignment Hearing?
In Florida, a defendant cannot get the charges against him or her dropped at an arraignment hearing. This usually happens after the arraignment hearing. For example, if a person is charged with a felony DUI, his or her lawyer can file a notice within the first twenty-one days to hold an adversarial preliminary hearing. This hearing’s purpose is to compel the prosecution witnesses to appear and say under oath why the defendant should be charged. Because of such hearings, the charges are sometimes dropped.
Can You Go to Jail After an Arraignment?
If you enter a not guilty plea and are still detained, you can argue why you should be freed on your own recognizance (ROR) rather than being expected to post bail. In addition, you can say that you should have reasonable bail considering the charges and circumstances. The prosecutor trying your case might or might not dispute bail. You can face a terrible situation if the judge denies bail and remands you back into police custody until your trial.