If you have been arrested for a criminal offense, you have not been found guilty. The court has to make a finding of your guilt, either through a full trial, or through a plea entered by you. The very first appearance you make in Court is called an Arraignment.
At the Arraignment, the following things will happen:
- You will be asked to enter a plea, whether it is guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
- You will be read the offense you are being charged with and the potential consequences you may face
- You will have the opportunity to talk to the Prosecutor regarding the charges against you
- You will be offered a plea bargain in exchange for your guilty plea
The arraignment is a court ordered appearance. If you are given a citation, it will state on the citation the date you must appear in court. If you fail to appear, it is a court violation referred to as a Failure to Appear.
When you fail to appear in Court, the Judge will order a Bench Warrant. A bench warrant allows officers or other authorities to arrest you at any time and take you into custody. It is highly advisable that if you have failed to appear in court, that you appear as soon as possible to explain your failure to appear to the Judge and hope that the Judge recalls the Bench Warrant.
Many people fail to appear in Court because they are afraid of going to Court alone, or have extreme anxiety as to what may happen. This issue can easily be resolved by hiring a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney. A legal professional is not only a good idea so that you do not have to appear in Court, but they have the experience and knowledge necessary to advise you on the best defenses, or arguments in your case.
Sitting down with a Criminal Defense lawyer will help you understand the process of your case, and what your options are. The plea bargain offered by the Prosecutor at the arraignment is not always the best choice, and it may make sense for you to proceed to trial instead. Because you are not familiar with the Criminal Justice System, it would be difficult for you to ascertain what the best route is for you to take. Sitting down with an attorney will help clarify a lot.
If you have already failed to appear and have a warrant issued, a legal professional can easily address the issue in Court on your behalf. This way, you do not have to take time off of your busy day, and can continue to focus on the important things in your life.
It is highly recommended that you at least speak to a lawyer. Not only will you gain valuable knowledge pertaining to your case, you will not have to appear in court yourself, eliminating any additional charges of failure to appear!