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What to Expect at Your Arraignment

The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A. Feb. 28, 2024

Arraignment file and gavelAn arraignment is a legal proceeding where you, as a defendant, are formally charged with a crime and asked to enter a plea. It's the initial step in the criminal court process and serves to inform you about the charges against you. 

At this stage, you're not required to present evidence or argue your case. Instead, you're simply asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. We believe it's important for you to understand that the arraignment is a crucial part of the legal process, setting the stage for the subsequent proceedings. 

Steps Leading Up to the Arraignment 

Before you find yourself at an arraignment, there are important steps that occur. First off, you're arrested and charged with a crime. This is a stressful and confusing time, but it's crucial to remember your rights. You have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during any questioning. At The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A., we urge you to exercise these rights to protect yourself. 

Following your arrest, you may be held in custody or released, depending on the nature of the charges and other factors. If you're held in custody, Florida law requires that you be brought before the court for a first appearance within 24 hours of your arrest. Here, the court informs you of your charges and certain constitutional rights. It's also when bail and conditions of pretrial release are set. 

In some cases, there might be a probable cause hearing. This typically happens within 48 hours of a warrantless arrest if the issue of probable cause wasn't addressed at the first appearance. At this hearing, the judge determines whether there are sufficient grounds to believe you committed the charged crimes. 

We know this can all seem overwhelming, but don't worry. Our team at The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A., is here to guide you every step of the way. 

We'll ensure you understand what's happening and what to expect next. Your future may feel like it's hanging in the balance, but with our experienced criminal defense attorneys at your side, we'll fight for the best possible outcome. Whether you're in Clearwater, New Port Richey, Tampa, or St. Petersburg, don't hesitate to reach out to us for the help you need. 

What Occurs at the Arraignment? 

During an arraignment, several key events occur. We'll break these down for you so that you have a clear understanding of each step: 

  • Reading of Charges: The court informs you of the charges against you. This can involve reading the criminal complaint, indictment, information, or another charging document to you. You're entitled to receive a copy of this charging document. 

  • Entering a Plea: You're asked to enter a plea. Your options are guilty, not guilty, or no contest. We usually recommend pleading not guilty at this stage, as it gives us time to gather and review evidence. However, in some cases, a plea of guilty or no contest may be appropriate for minor crimes. 

  • Addressing Bail and Conditions of Release: The judge may discuss bail and determine whether you'll be held in custody or released pending further proceedings. The conditions of release can vary, such as being released on your own recognizance, posting bail, or being placed in a supervised release program. Other conditions may include no contact with witnesses, no use of drugs or alcohol, and no association with other defendants. 

  • Raising Legal Issues: You and your attorney can bring up legal issues at the arraignment, and the judge may schedule hearings to address these concerns. 

It's important to remember that the arraignment is not a trial. There's no presentation of evidence or calling of witnesses at this stage. Rather, it's an opportunity for you to understand the charges against you and for us to begin formulating a defense strategy.  

Do I Need an Attorney for the Arraignment Process? 

Though it's not mandatory to have an attorney present at the arraignment, we strongly recommend it. As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we provide valuable guidance and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. 

We'll help you understand the charges, advise on the appropriate plea, and negotiate bail conditions if necessary. Having us by your side can prevent potential mistakes or misunderstandings that could negatively impact your case. Trust us when we say, it's in your best interest to have legal representation during the arraignment process. 

Reliable Legal Representation During Tough Times 

At The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A., we're committed to guiding you through the legal process with compassion and experience. Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you need assistance with an arraignment or any other aspect of the criminal court process. Our knowledgeable team is always here to help.