Arraignment

Once these procedures are completed, you are brought to Criminal Court for arraignment, where you will learn what charges have been brought against you. From the defendant’s point of view, however, the most important feature of the arraignment is whether the judge sets bail.

At arraignment, the case will be called and the defendant produced before the bench. His attorney will approach and be permitted to stand with him. The court will ask whether the defendant will waive the reading of the complaint against him, which is typically done.

The court will then review the file while the prosecutor provides the defendant with any notices required by law. Although the state has fifteen days to provide such notices, by custom they are offered at arraignment.

Common notices include:

710.30(1)(a) Statement Notice, which is provided when the state claims the defendant has made a statement it plans to assert at trial. The People must provide a copy of the statement in whatever form it was made.

710.30(1)(b) Identification Notice, which is given when the People claim the defendant has been identified as the perpetrator though some kind of identification procedure, such as a lineup.

190.50 Notice, which puts the defendant on notice that the People intend to present the case to a Grand Jury for felony indictment.

The defense may also provide cross-notices to the prosecution, if it wishes, such as a cross-190.50 notice that the defendant wishes to testify in the Grand Jury.

At the arraignment, your lawyer and the prosecutor may discuss the possibility of settling your case without the need of having a trial. They may negotiate a plea bargain which you may either accept and plead guilty, or reject and plead not guilty. You have the right to a lawyer at the arraignment.

Your lawyer will be given a chance to reply to the prosecutor’s arguments. The judge will then decide your bail conditions. Your bail conditions may change as your case continues.

If you are released, you must appear in court every time your case is calendared. At each court appearance, you will be informed of your next court date. Your lawyer should inform you if the date is changed. However, it is your responsibility to know when and where to appear.

You should arrive in court at 9:30 a.m. or at what ever time the judge sets and wait there for your lawyer to appear. If you do not appear and do not notify the court or your lawyer, the judge will order a bench warrant for your arrest. This means that the police will be notified to find you, arrest you, and bring you to court. If you have posted bail, it may be forfeited (not returned to you). If the police arrest you and bring you to court, the judge may change your bail conditions by requiring that you pay more bail or by remanding you. Once a bench warrant is ordered, it remains on your fingerprint report (rap sheet).

In some instances, the judge may order you to stay away from a witness or victim. This order is called a temporary order of protection. If you do not obey the order, you could be arrested and new charges may be brought against you for disobeying the order. The judge may also order stricter bail conditions for disobeying the temporary order of protection.

 

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