Criminal Defense Lawyer FAQ

Do I need a lawyer at my arraignment?

In most criminal courts the arraignment is where you first appear before a judge and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the offense charged. Assuming you enter a plea of not guilty, which almost every defendant does at this early stage, the following steps also happen at the arraignment:

  • the judge sets a date for the next procedural event in your case
  • the judge considers any bail requests that you or the prosecutor make
  • the judge appoints a lawyer for you, if appropriate, and
  • the judge may ask you to "waive time" -- that is, give up your right to have the trial or other statutory proceedings occur within specified periods of time.

Most people can, if necessary, handle this proceeding without an attorney. However, it's almost always better to have a lawyer, whether court-appointed or privately retained.

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