Arraignment is one of your most important appearances before the court because it is during your arraignment where you enter your plea.
Whether you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty is going to shape how your involvement with the criminal justice system moves forward.
At LV Criminal Defense, our legal team is committed to helping defendants make the right choice for how to plead during arraignment. When you are represented by a Vegas defense lawyer from LV Criminal Defense, your attorney will carefully review all of the evidence, facts and information with you about your case.
Based on factors like the strength of the evidence and the nature of the charges, your attorney will help you to decide if you are likely to get the better outcome through pleading guilty or not.
Nevada Revised Statue Section 174.015 sets forth the basic rules for the conduct that must occur during the arraignment process. Your arraignment has to be conducted in open court.
When you are arraigned, you should be fully informed of the substance of the criminal charges that you face.
You may be read an indictment handed down by the grand jury or an information so that you can learn about all of the accusations against you. You have the right to receive a copy of the indictment or the information as well. You are also going to be required to provide your true name to the court according to N.R.S. 174.025 so that the case proceeds with the prosecution under the correct name. If you do not declare a true name that is different from the name in the information or indictment, prosecution will proceed under the name listed in these documents.
When you are fully informed of the charges and you have been given a copy of the indictment or the information, it is time to enter a plea. The plea that you enter in arraignment shapes what happens next. While admitting guilt can sometimes make sense if you want to control the possible consequences and negotiate a plea agreement so you have certainty, you don’t want to plead guilty unless you are sure this is the best choice under the circumstances.
Before you decide to enter a guilty plea during arraignment, talk to a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer about all of your options for responding to the charges.
Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.
There are different pleas that you can submit to the court during your arraignment.
The types of pleas are described in N.R.S. 174.035 and include guilty; not guilty; guilty but mentally ill; or nolo contendere.
If you wish to plead nolo contendere, or no contest, you will need the court’s permission. The court also has the authority to refuse to accept a guilty plea or to refuse to accept a plea of guilty but mentally ill.
N.R.S. 174.035 explains not only the types of pleas you can enter but also the procedure for entering your plea. The requirements for what you must prove to be found not guilty by reason of mental illness are also set forth in the same code section. You would have to demonstrate, for example, that a disease or defect of the mind caused you to be in a delusional state that prevented you from either understanding the nature or capacity of your criminal act or from understanding that the conduct was illegal.
If you wish to plead guilty, you should have your attorney negotiate on your behalf with the prosecutor to try to get a favorable plea deal before you admit guilt. N.R.S. 174.061 explains the general requirements for plea bargaining and prohibits certain types of plea agreements.
This code section also addresses situations where prosecutors make plea deals to get defendants to testify on behalf of criminal co-conspirators. If a prosecutor agreed to a deal in exchange for testimony, the agreement becomes void if the testimony is false.
Plea agreements always have to be in writing and prosecuting attorneys cannot enter into plea deals that are contingent upon testimony contributing to a certain outcome. Prosecutors also cannot limit the testimony of a defendant to a pre-determined formula in exchange for agreeing to the plea deal.
Taking a plea deal usually makes sense only if a prosecutor is willing to give up something in exchange for you admitting guilt and not making the prosecutor go to trial. For example, the prosecutor may agree to reduce the charges, to drop some of the charges you face, or to recommend a lenient sentence for the crime.
N.R.S. 174.065 affirms that it is permissible for a plea deal to specify a degree of crime or punishment for the defendant. If prosecutors did not have this authority, there would be far fewer plea deals. When a prosecutor does recommend a specific degree of charge or a specific punishment, the prosecutor must consent in open court.
The court also has to approve the plea deal; however, if the prosecutor and defendant have agreed then a defendant shouldn’t be punished for a higher degree offense than the degree specified in the plea bargain.
An experienced attorney who represents your interests can help you to try to negotiate the best possible plea deal with the goal of substantially limiting penalties whenever possible.
Las Vegas Justice Court – Criminal Division
Regional Justice Center
200 Lewis Avenue, 2nd Floor
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Clark County Justice Court – Calendar Search
LV Criminal Defense helps many clients during arraignment and in the pre-trial preparation phase. Whether you want help deciding how to plead or you need assistance dealing with the prosecutor to try to get a better plea deal, our legal team is here for you. Call LV Criminal Defense now to learn more.