Why is the arraignment date so important?
Updated: Apr 2
Arraignment is a very important part of the criminal process. It marks the beginning of the case. When you are arraignment on a charge that is when a board of probation record or something on your CORI may appear.
Generally, a person has two different ways in which they will be brought to court for a day of arraignment. First, if the defendant is arrested the court they will be brought to court the next day for arraignment.
Second, a person may be notified to come to court on a particular day if they were not arrested. If a case originated from a clerk's magistrate hearing or if a person posted bailed after they were arrested, a clerk may notify the person to show up on a particular day to face his or her charges.
The day of arraignment is very important. Once a person is arraigned, it will show up on their record. Even if the case is dismissed after a person has been arraigned it will still appear on their record. Now, if you can have the case dismissed prior to be arraigned, then it will not show up on your record.
In recent years, the court has created new ways to divert people away from the criminal courts. If you are eligible for these diversion programs under 276A, then you may be able keep your record clear.
The legislature also passed certain laws that help military veterans in certain situations. The original law known as the Valor act helped many veterans keep their record clear while getting the help they needed. The legislature has since replaced that with the Brave Act which is much more limited in some ways.
Arraignment is also the day to start fighting your case and vigorously defending it against the prosecution's case. There may a restraining order hearing related to the criminal case that needs to be fought. There may be witnesses that need to be cross-examined. These actions may help your case a lot later on and may even help dismiss your case.
Bail or no bail.
One of the largest issues at arraignment is if the defendant is going to be released for the duration of the case. The government can ask the judge to set a high bail. A bail argument can be a very important thing as to a defendant's freedom. The prosecutor can also file a 58A request to hold the defendant on dangerousness reasons and hold the defendant without bail.
To complicate matters, if you already have an open case or on probation the court may hold you without bail. Arraignments are a crucial part of the criminal process. If you have an arraignment, do not go at it alone.