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Do You Need an Attorney at Your Arraignment?

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Most people go their entire lives without getting into any trouble with the law. For this reason, most people do not really know how the criminal justice system works. A very important part is called the arraignment or initial appearance. What is the arraignment? Do you need to have your attorney present? This short guide will provide you with the answers you need about your arraignment.

What Is an Arraignment or initial appearance?

No matter what you are accused of, whether it is big or small, the first legal step is the arraignment or initial appearance. You can think of this as your first court appearance, but do not let that concept frighten you. You are not on trial yet and nothing will happen at the arraignment that determines whether you are found guilty or innocent. Only administrative matters are taken care of at your arraignment. There are three important things that are taken care of at an arraignment:

  1. You are notified of your charges and the potential penalties
  2. You are notified of your right to counsel, including potential representation by the Public Defenders office
  3. A court date is determined

You also may be asked to enter a preliminary plea.  This is why it is important to have an experienced criminal attorney present with you.  If you hire an attorney in advance of your arraignment or initial appearance you may not even have to go to court.

A date for your trial will be set. Pre-trial conditions may also be put on you, such as not being able to speak or have contact with people involved in the case, or not being able to return to where the alleged incident took place.

Should Your Attorney Be There?

You are not required to have your attorney at your arraignment, however it will not inconvenience anyone or slow the process to have your attorney present. No legal matters will be addressed outside of those mentioned above, so although not necessary, it can be very helpful to have an attorney with you.  

It is a very good idea to have spoken with a criminal lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland prior to the arraignment, even if you do not need him or her to be there for that meeting. You should have legal advice about which plea to enter. Additionally, you cannot know how much time will be between the arraignment and your trial, so you should hire an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible.



Thanks to Greenberg Law Offices for their insight into criminal law and arraignments.