In Cruisin’ For A Bruce-in, we ride along with Florida Attorney Bruce Denson as he gives brief explanations on Florida Law and what to do in common legal situations. In this edition, we Bruce discusses everything you need to know about your Arraignment.
This is everything you need to know about your upcoming arraignment. If you got a DUI or were arrested or if you've been charged with a criminal defense and you got a notice in the mail that you have an arraignment court date coming up, here's everything you need to know in order to handle that date and potentially how to avoid having to go to court.
So, first off, what is the arraignment? By the constitution, everybody has a right to be arraigned on any criminal charge that they're facing and that simply means you have a right to be told what you're being charged with. So, really the purpose of the arraignment is to tell you by the court an official pronouncement of what the charge is against you. You may already know it but this is a way that the court makes sure you know what you're charged with.
So, here's what's going to happen and here's how to handle it. So, a lot of people are nervous about the arraignment but you don't need to be. What you need to do is make sure you show up on time. I recommend getting to court 15 minutes early. That allows you to make sure you've got good parking, that you're able to get in through the metal detector, that you're able to find your way to the courtroom without any problem or issue. So, get to the courthouse early. The bailiffs will either let you in the courtroom or tell you where to be.
Usually at arraignments, a lot of times, there'll be a short video that the judge will play in order to make sure you know what your constitutional rights are. Some of them like to do that live and in person and then after that the judge will start calling cases. They usually do it alphabetically and you wait until your case is called. Again, you'll be told what you're charged with, the judge is going to ask you if you have hired a lawyer or intend to hire a lawyer, and there may be an offer made on your case as to what the resolution would be, whether it's jail time, or probation, or a fine and then, if the case is not resolved, you're gonna get a pre-trial date about a month out and that's it: You'll leave, you'll go home, and you'll have a little bit of time in order to process exactly what you're charged with and how you're going to handle it.
Now, a couple of things: Come dressed appropriately. you don't need to wear a coat and tie but wear some decent shoes, wear long pants, wear a shirt with sleeves on it and a collar is recommended. Don't say anything that might mess your case up in court. Don't admit to anything, don't say anything about the charges. So, don't admit anything, don't deny anything, just listen, enter a not guilty plea, tell the judge you want to contest the charges against you, and come back another day. Be polite and respectful, have a good attitude, it's the only thing you can control. Have a good attitude going in, knowing that you just really want to get this behind you.
Then the last thing to think about is you can avoid going to the arraignment altogether by hiring a lawyer. If you hire a lawyer, they file a written plea on your behalf, they file a notice of appearance, so the judge knows that you know what you've been charged with, you know that you have a right to an attorney, and you actually have an attorney and a pre-trial just gets set automatically. So, you don't have to attend the arraignment. If you're really nervous about the arraignment or you don't want to attend it, that's the best way to handle that: hire a lawyer so you don't have to go.
Otherwise, go early, dress appropriately, listen to the judge, listen to the offer, enter a not guilty plea so that you can contest the case, or if you just want to resolve it maybe you enter a guilty or no contest plea. This is not legal advice here today but I just want to give you your options and make sure you know how to handle things and if there's anything else that we can help you with please feel free to give us a call at the office.
The Right to an Arraignment is guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It is in this hearing that you are formally informed of the charges against you and given an opportunity to respond to those charges by giving a plea. However, this is not the time when evidence is presented nor when the merits of the charges against you are debated.
The most important thing to remember is that this is likely your first appearance before the judge in this matter, so it is important that you put your best foot forward. Taking care of your appearance and dressing well will help to show the judge that you are taking the case seriously and that you want to put this all behind you.
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