Handling the Arraignment in a Criminal Case
Whether you are under arrest or not for a criminal charge, it is always wise to consider legal counsel as soon as possible. The charge can be a minor one like a traffic violation or a serious one like embezzlement. Whatever the issue at hand, getting advice from a criminal attorney could help formulate a proper and timely defense.
The arraignment is the first time an individual, the one accused of a crime, appears before the judge. Understanding what happens at this phase beforehand is important. It is during this time that you get to hear the charges against you, enter a response and get a clear idea about the bail amount.
As per Florida laws, occurrence of an arraignment for individual under arrest on criminal charges must be within 72 hours from the time of the arrest. This implies that you do not get the time or scope to prepare for the appearance without legal help. On the other hand, it is possible for an attorney to do the same with ease.
At the arraignment, the prosecutor reads out the charges brought against you, and submits the written statement as well. The prosecutor also asks the defendant whether they require court-appointed legal counsel. Next is the time for the defendant to enter a response (legal term is ‘plea’) to the charges.
Any resident of Miami has the option of entering four categories of pleas, according to the state legal directives.
• Not guilty plea – asserts that you did not commit the crime(s) mentioned before.
• Guilty plea – admits that the facts stated are true and you committed the crime(s).
• No contest plea – asserts that you do not dispute the charge, but do not admit guilt.
• Mute plea – asserts that you do not admit guilt, and therefore, the court enters a not guilty plea on your behalf.
If you enter a guilty or a no-contest plea, there is no question of a trial. Otherwise, the dates for the pre-trial motions or trial are set. The judge also addresses the question of bail amount (if applicable), or personal recognizance release at this stage.
Preparing for the arraignment as well as the trial requires capable legal assistance. Only a competent Miami criminal attorney has the knowledge and experience to come up with the right strategy. He/she knows which plea works best for your case and how to handle the next phases of the legal proceeding as well.