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 handle this proceeding without a lawyer. However, if you can get the court to appoint a lawyer for you without postponing the arraignment, or you are able to arrange for private representation before your arraignment, it's always better to have a lawyer. If you want to consult with a lawyer before your arraignment, or get representation, you can turn to Nolo's trusted Lawyer Directory to find a criminal defense attorney near you.

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