An arraignment is the very first appearance you make in your Las Vegas criminal case. It is not a trial, and you do not need to present evidence. Depending on your case, your attorney may be able to appear on your behalf. If you were charged with a misdemeanor, your attorney can usually appear for you.
If you were charged with a felony, you will likely need to be there. This is a very short hearing, usually less than five minutes, sometimes less than one minute. It is common to wait much longer for your case to be called. In the arraignment, a criminal defendant is advised of their rights and the charges against them.
Arraignments under the federal constitutional Sixth Amendment must occur within a reasonable time following an arrest. If you are in custody, your arraignment must occur within 3 court days of your arrest. If a complaint or indictment takes months or years to be scheduled, it may be possible to ask the judge to dismiss the case due to an unreasonable delay.
What Happens Before an Arraignment?
A criminal case begins when you are arrested for a crime. Depending on the charges, you will either be in custody or come to court to appear. Police will give you a date to appear in court. This first hearing is the arraignment. It is critical that you and/or your attorney appear at your arraignment. If you or your attorney do not show up, the judge will likely issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Additionally, this failure to appear will not look good for your case.
Can the Arraignment be Cancelled?
Possibly. When you are arrested, the District Attorney will conduct a pre-file investigation to determine if they believe there’s enough evidence to convict you. If they feel the case is weak, and they will not be successful, the charges could be dropped, and the arraignment could be canceled.
What Happens at the Arraignment?
You will wait in the courtroom and the judge will call your case. The judge will state the charges against you and ask you if you plead guilty or not guilty. This question is not a surprise, and you will discuss your answer ahead of time with your lawyer. Most likely, you will plead not guilty.
Note that you can still plead guilty or no contest later as part of a plea bargain. Next, if you are in custody, your lawyer may ask for you to be released on your own recognizance, or a bail reduction may be discussed.
What Happens After Arraignment?
Following an arraignment, your case will move forward. Your lawyer will ask for the state’s evidence file (called “discovery”), and may discuss a plea bargain with prosecutors, in an effort to get charges reduced or dropped before trial.
Do not navigate criminal charges alone when your future is at stake. If you are being accused of a crime, call LV criminal defense lawyers at (702) 623-6362. We are here seven days a week to help you protect your rights in your criminal case.