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What Happens at an Arraignment?

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals who are accused of a crime to hear the charges that the government has filed against them. During an arraignment or initial pretrial hearing, you will listen to the criminal charges that you are facing so that you are fully aware of them. An arraignment is the first step of the formal criminal court process. In many cases, the court will hold an arraignment within 72 hours of arrest. If you have posted a bond before you have an arraignment scheduled, however, then it may be a few weeks before the court holds your arraignment. 

What Happens at an Arraignment?

The judge also will ask you at your arraignment whether you intend to hire an attorney or if you want the court to appoint you a lawyer. If you qualify for a court-appointed attorney, the judge will appoint you one. The judge will ask you to enter a formal plea to the charges that you are facing. At this point, you can enter one of the following pleas:

  • Guilty, if you are admitting that you committed the crime with which you are charged, in which case the judge will sentence you immediately
  • Not guilty, if you deny that you committed the crime with which you are charged, which will prompt the court to schedule a trial date in your case
  • Mute plea, in which you do not respond to the question. In this case, the judge will enter a not guilty plea on your behalf.
  • No contest plea, in which you do not dispute the charges against you, but you also do not admit that you committed the crime

A judge also will set bail at an arraignment or deny bail, based on the severity of the crime. The purpose of bail is to make sure that you show up at all scheduled court dates and proceedings. If you don’t show up as expected, you risk forfeiting the bail that you paid. The judge also will go ahead and schedule various court dates for conferences, hearings, and trial. If you or a family member is facing any criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

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