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The Complete Guide to the Steps in the Arraignment Process

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The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals the right to be told of the charges against them. In Texas, this is done through the arraignment process. An arraignment is basically a court hearing in which the accused is formally charged with a crime, thereby invoking his or her right to counsel.

The Arraignment Process

There should not be an unusual delay between the time a person is arrested and an arraignment. Most jurisdictions require arraignments to take place within a 72-hour time frame in order to account for weekends and holidays. Those who were permitted to post bond may have their arraignment set for a later time, which is often as much as two weeks down the road.

Arraignment hearings are presided over by a judge, and may include multiple defendants. The judge will call each person one at a time and then read the particular charges that are pending. Once this is done, the individual will be asked whether he or she would like to be appointed an attorney. If the individual is qualified to have a court-appointed attorney, one will be granted at that time. An initial plea is also entered, and this is normally not guilty.

After the Plea is Made

The arraignment hearing is the official beginning of formal court proceedings in a criminal matter. Events are recorded by a court reporter, and must follow the guidelines spelled out in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. After entering a plea, the judge might go ahead and set tentative dates for pretrial conferences, and could also establish the bail amount if any.

In some cases, a defendant can request that charges be dropped shortly after hearing them read. This is normally only done in cases where the accused has retained private counsel prior to the arraignment. Motions such as these are considered by the presiding judge, who has the sole authority of accepting or denying them.

Benefits of Legal Counsel

Although arraignments are fairly routine events, it can nonetheless be beneficial for an individual to be represented by legal counsel during them. A few advantages include:

  • Attorneys can recognize invalid charges and request they be dismissed
  • Defendants will not have to talk and risk saying something that might be used against them later
  • Attorneys can provide support and peace of mind during a very stressful time in a defendant’s life

For more information about the arraignment process, talk to Houston attorney Brett Podolsky and schedule a free appointment at 713-227-0087.

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