Articles Posted in Arraignment

When a person has been arrested for a violation of the California Penal or Vehicle Code, they will be asked to appear before the Judge on set date. That date is the date of their arraignment. The arraignment is when a person enters a plea with the Judge. They may plea guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

At the arraignment the Prosecutor will also give you an offer. The offer is a plea bargain that will give you the potential sentence they can offer you, if you agree to plead guilty and not try the case. It is important to note that it is your constitutional right to have a trial, where the evidence may be presented and the ultimate verdict determined by a jury of your peers.

If you choose to take the offer given by the Prosecutor and plead guilty, you are waiving your right to a trial and to be heard. This is a very important decision and must be understood completely before any kind of offer is accepted.

When you have been arrested for a criminal charge, your case will go through several stages. First is when you get arrested. At that point, you have not been found guilty of a crime. At that point you have only allegedly committed a crime, and a court of law must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The first Court appearance you make is called the arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea and will be presented with a plea bargain by the Prosecutor. You can accept the plea and plead guilty right away, or you can choose to decline the plea and plead not guilty or no contest.

If you plead not guilty, you will be given a date for Pre-Trial. At the Pre-Trial hearing you still have the opportunity to accept a settlement offer from the Prosecutor. However, you must be able to determine whether an offer is a good one, or whether you should continue on to trial. If you do not have any legal experience or have not dealt with criminal cases before, it is difficult to determine.

When you are arrested you will be given a piece of paper that will indicate the charge you are being brought under and the date and time you should appear in Court.

When you appear in Court on that date, it is called the Arraignment. This first court appearance is when the Judge explains your rights and asks you to enter a plea. If you would like a continuance to hire an attorney, you will be able to ask the Judge and they will grant you an extension so that you can hire a San Diego Criminal Defense attorney.

At the arraignment, you will also have the chance to speak to a Prosecutor. The Prosecutor will give you an offer, known as the plea bargain. Because Courts are backed up, the goal of the criminal courtroom is to have cases quickly closed. They want people to plead quickly so that they can be sentenced and the case is taken off calendar. Accordingly, the plea bargain is an offer that will ask you to plead to a lesser charge or reduced sentence in exchange that you plead guilty and not contest the charge.

This week Lindsay Lohan pleaded no contest to her Theft Case pending before the Criminal Judge in Los Angeles. The judge has already sentenced Lohan to 120 days in jail regarding her probation violation. She will likely serve about two weeks for the petty theft charge and probation officials may allow her to serve the time at home wearing an electronic surveillance bracelet.

A no contest plea, Nolo Contendere in Latin, essentially means “I do not wish to contend” the charges. It states that the defendant does not plead guilty to the charge, but doesn’t wish to dispute it either. It carries with it the same consequences as a guilty plea, but the charge may not later be used against the defendant in any civil proceedings. With a no contest plea, the person charged is subject to any and all penalties that may come with a guilty plea, including fines, jail time, and probation.

The option of pleading No Contest is available to all defendants. Many times it comes as part of a plea bargain. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can discuss the facts of your case and your concerns to help determine whether no contest is a plea you should consider.

Many of our clients ask us if it is important that they have an attorney for their first appearance in court when they have been charged with a Criminal offense. The first appearance, referred to as an arraignment, determines the outcome and process of your criminal case.

During the arraignment you are asked to make a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. You are asked to make this plea without all the facts. You are handed your arrest report minutes before you appear before the Judge to make a plea and have several minutes to talk to the Prosecutor regarding a plea bargain. The Prosecutor is the one you discuss your case with and the one who presents you with the possible sentence if you choose to plead guilty. What most people don’t understand is that the Prosecutor is working to prosecute you for the case. Their best interest is to get the case settled, it is not to get you the best possible sentence or to get your case dismissed.

Additionally, you do not know the full background of your case and the possible defenses that may be available to you. At Hoffman and Associates we review the facts of the case and in many cases get a continuance so that we can make a thorough evaluation of the circumstances surrounding the case and the defenses so that we can provide the most powerful argument on behalf of our client.

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