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What Does an “Arraignment” Mean? Criminal Defense, Criminal Law

What Does an “Arraignment” Mean?

4 months ago by Justin M. Schiks
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The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution says, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” Your arraignment is the first step in ensuring that your Sixth Amendment rights are upheld. It is recommended that you have a criminal defense lawyer with you at this preliminary hearing. If you can not afford an attorney, a Public Defender can be appointed to you.

Your First Arraignment in Washington County

Here in Washington County, your initial arraignment may also be referred to as your “first appearance.” Again, the Sixth Amendment gives arrested people the right to know who their accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against them. The first arraignment is your initial court appearance in front of the judge. At this hearing, the judge will read you the exact crimes you are being charged with and explain the nature of the charges as needed. The date of your second arraignment will be announced as well. Bail might also be set at this arraignment.

Bail May Be Set During the First Arraignment

The US is one of only two countries in the world with a commercial bail bond system. The system works by setting a monetary amount as insurance that the defendant will appear in court for his or her trial. For example, if bail is set at one million dollars and the accused disappears without ever appearing for the trial, the accused would owe the court one million dollars. Since very few people have that kind of cash on hand, the commercial bail bond company sells what is essentially an insurance policy covering that amount to the accused. If bail is set in your case, you are allowed to be released from jail. If bail is not allowed in your case, you will remain in jail until your trial concludes.  

Your Second Arraignment in Washington County

There are two different types of arraignments in Washington County. The second arraignment (“second appearance”) occurs after the District Attorney has officially filed the case against you. At the second arraignment, you will be formally charged with one or more crimes. Your attorney will also tell the judge what your plea is at that time: no contest, not guilty, or guilty. The trial date will usually be set at this arraignment as well.

Arraignment Timing

According to Minnesota law, the first arraignment should occur after 48 hours from the time of arrest or indictment, unless the accused has already been released on bail. A defendant could also choose to waive this right if desired. Have your criminal defense lawyer walk you through the anticipated timeline for your case, as a felony arraignment can often be delayed months. 

There are also differences between County Courts, District Courts, Federal Courts, and so on. Furthermore, your attorney can often appear on your behalf (without you needing to be present) for misdemeanor arraignments. If you are out on bail, this can prevent you from having to miss a day of work.

A Compassionate, Tough Woodbury, MN, Criminal Defense Lawyer

JS Defense can represent you at your arraignment. We are a full-service Woodbury criminal defense attorney service available around the clock. Our highly-rated firm is happy to review the details of your case with you if you need legal representation for a misdemeanor or felony. Schedule your appointment with us now.


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