It’s easy for attorneys to take for granted the knowledge they have regarding a criminal arraignment. After all, they may find themselves in court several times a week, so the process is second nature to them. Unless you have been involved in a criminal legal process, the things that go on during a hearing can be shrouded in mystery. Let’s examine the process and review what one can expect during an arraignment.

The Probation Department

Prior to being arraigned, those who are summonsed or arrested are required to check in with the probation department. This visit is used to collect and confirm personal information, such as a person’s name, address, date of birth, income, expenses, place of employment, and net worth. This information is used to determine whether one qualifies for a court appointed attorney and to run a criminal records check, a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) for the judge, district attorney and defense counsel. Individuals who do not complete this initial process will not have their case called.

Determining Bail

The nature of the charges brought against an individual and their history in coming to court will determine whether or not bail needs to be set. Typically, individuals that are new to the system or have reliably appeared in court previously when required will not face an issue with bail. Conversely, individuals who are a flight risk and have not appeared reliably may need a lawyer to argue bail. The bail details may be discussed between a defense lawyer and a prosecutor prior to the arraignment. Moreover, defendants are advised to meet with a lawyer to discuss the facts of the case, prior defaults, explanations for such and prior convictions. This will permit a defense lawyer to present the judge with a favorable argument for your release on personal recognizance or an affordable bail.

Entering a Plea

In Massachusetts, individuals don’t have to worry about entering a not guilty plea. The clerk who calls the arraignments typically performs this task on your behalf when your case gets called.

Continuing Your Arraignment

Once an individual is arraigned, court records will show an open criminal case. This means employers may have access to this information, potentially resulting in a suspension from your job or possible termination. Under certain circumstances, a lawyer can request a continuance of an arraignment or a Magistrate’s hearing to determine if there was sufficient probable cause for criminal charges to be issued. Make sure to speak with a lawyer about this option prior to arraignment.

Resolve Your Case Prior to Arraignment

There are instances where individuals can resolve their case before arraignment. This will ensure the individual is not associated with an open criminal case. Speak with your lawyer to find out if resolving your case prior to arraignment is an option.

I’m committed to defending the accused and protecting your rights. If you have to appear in court or have been charged with a crime, contact me right away at (508) 752-2727 so we can arrange a consultation to discuss your legal options.