Attorneys for Court Arraignments in New York
What is a Court Arraignment? The Process Explained
If you have already been arrested, you can generally take one of two approaches. You can wait and see what will happen at the risk of your rights and freedoms or you can seek the legal guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. One of the first steps in the criminal justice system process following the arrest is the arraignment. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney during this crucial time period can be critical to protecting your rights and freedoms, and yet many defendants wait until after the arraignment, preliminary hearings, and even the grand jury proceedings in some instances. Unfortunately during the time where the defendant was unrepresented they may have made admissions or otherwise taken actions that are likely to harm their chances at reducing, eliminating or prevailing against the charges. Furthermore, lack of representation may affect whether bail is offered or the terms and conditions of bail.
The criminal defense attorneys of Sullivan & Galleshaw are dedicated to fighting aggressively and strategically for criminal defendants. We are experienced in defending against a broad array of charges including fraud, firearms and weapons charges, immigration crimes, theft, sex crimes, drug charges and more.
Why must criminal defendants go through an arraignment in court?
At an arraignment the criminal defendant is present in court to hear the judge read the charges they face aloud in court. This is the first time the defendant will appear in court. At the arraignment, the criminal defendant will also be informed of his or her right to legal representation and that he or she is entitled to an adjournment to secure counsel. At the arraignment the defendant will also enter his or her plea in response to the charges. Typically, individuals will plead not guilty to the charges they face so as to preserve their right to defend.
If applicable, bail will also be set or denied by the judge. Because the terms of bail reflect the judge’s perception of the defendant based on past acts, past criminal record, and the perceived likelihood that the defendant will appear at future proceedings the advocacy of an experienced attorney can be particularly useful at this stage. Your attorney can highlight factors that the judge will view favorably and can attempt to explain or any behavior or actions that would be viewed negatively.
Finally, at the arraignment the next step in the process will be decided on by the Assistant District Attorney. In some instances, the next step will be a preliminary hearing while in others a grand jury proceeding will immediately follow.
What will the next steps in the process entail?
If the next step is a preliminary hearing, the proceeding will be held in the County of New York where the alleged crime was committed. The victim must be present and the defendant and his or her lawyer also typically attend the proceeding. The criminal defendant will be questioned by the Assistant District Attorney and may also be cross examined. At the end of the proceeding the judge can decide to proceed in one of four ways:
- The judge may decide that a reasonable basis for the charges does not exist and dismiss them.
- The judge may decide the further proceeding should take place in a local court.
- The judge may determine that reasonable cause exists, but a lesser offense should be charged.
- The judge may determine that the matter can proceed to a Grand Jury.
In some matters, the preliminary hearing will not be held and the matter will proceed directly to the grand jury hearing. The hearing is secret and is not attended by the defendant, judge, or the defendant’s attorney – only the Assistant District Attorney, the 23 jurors, and the court reporter will be present. At the grand jury proceeding the decision of a true bill; meaning that the evidence is sufficient and the charges can proceed, no bill; meaning that the evidence is insufficient and the charges should be dismissed, or the matter should be returned to the local courts for prosecution as a misdemeanor.
When facing criminal charges, protecting your rights with experienced counsel
The criminal defense attorneys of Sullivan & Galleshaw are dedicated to fighting for those accused of committing serious crimes. To schedule a free initial consultation, call (800) 730-0135 or contact our firm online today.
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