What can you Expect at your Massachusetts Criminal Arraignment?
If you’ve been arrested in Massachusetts, your first appearance in court on a criminal charge is the arraignment. This usually takes place the next business day after your arrest. At an arraignment in Massachusetts court, the criminal charges against you will be officially read, and you will enter a plea. Most people typically enter a not guilty plea at the arraignment. If you do not yet have a lawyer, a not guilty plea will be entered for you.
In most cases, even when someone thinks they are guilty and have no defense to the crime, it still makes sense to wait until a pre-trial to work out a deal.
Do I need an Attorney For An Arraignment?
It is not 100% necessary, but there are huge advantages. Though an arraignment is often treated like a non-event where you plead not-guilty and get another court date, a good attorney can sometimes find ways to deal with the case right then and there, with a dismissal prior to arraignment, that can result in your case going away completely if certain conditions are met.
Alternative sentences such as pretrial probation and pretrial diversion programs that avoid a criminal conviction on your record can often be negotiated prior to arraignment.
Ideally, you should always speak to an attorney before an arraignment. The court will appoint you an attorney if you are unable to afford one. You will have to provide information about your income and expenses to determine if you are eligible for a court-appointed attorney. Also at the arraignment, your bail status will be determined, and a future court date will be scheduled.
If you go to an arraignment without an attorney, the most important thing to remember is, do not speak to the prosecutor or anyone else about your case! Any statements you make can be used against you. If the DA offers you a deal on the spot, it is smart to wait to speak to an attorney to make sure that you aren’t being offered a deal only because the prosecution’s case is very weak.
Judges set a bail based on a number of factors such as previous record, length of time in the community, and seriousness of the offense. For most first offense misdemeanor charges, the bail is a nominal fee.
Free Criminal Defense Consultation
I am in different MA courts every day, defending my client’s rights and freedom on many different criminal charges. If you’ve been arrested and are being arraigned on a criminal charge in Massachusetts, call me now to find out how I can help.
By calling, you have nothing to lose. I’ll be happy to talk with you and discuss your case before you decide if you want to hire me. Defending people accused of crimes is what I do for a living. Call to set up a free consultation now.