One of the first — and most important — parts of the Massachusetts criminal process is the arraignment. Here’s what you need to know about your arraignment and how to get legal help.
The Definition of an Arraignment
Your arraignment is the first court hearing you have after an arrest. This is when you’ll learn of the charges you face, which may be different or more than what you were told at the time you were arrested. Then, you’ll be asked to provide preliminary information about your identity, employment, etc.
Hiring an Attorney for the Arraignment
If you haven’t hired your own attorney by the arraignment, a public lawyer will be provided to you. Usually, you don’t need to contact anyone to ask for an attorney; one is generally already present at the hearing and can represent you.
However, pro bono lawyers are often those without much experience or who are just out of law school and have yet to work at a firm. If you are facing serious charges, having a new lawyer on your case whose inexperience can impact your future may not be in your best interests.
Setting Bail vs. Release
Once the court has informed you of your charges and obtained your basic identifying information, a decision will need to be made whether to keep you in police custody and set a bail amount or release you. There are several factors that courts use to make this decision, such as:
If you have a past criminal record, particularly of violent crimes
If you are considered to be a flight risk
If the crimes you are accused of are particularly serious or violent
If you are a flight risk or the charges against you are serious, it’s more likely you’ll be kept in custody and will need to make bail to be released.
What Happens Next?
The judge will provide you with the information you need to attend your next hearing, including the time, date, and location. It’s critical that you attend this hearing; a no show will result in a warrant being placed for your arrest or facing additional criminal charges.
Don’t Wait — Get Experienced Legal Help Today
If you were arrested and charged with any criminal offense, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, you need aggressive legal advocacy. Thomas Kokonowski has the skills and experience to represent you. Call now for an initial consultation at 413-585-9200 (Northampton), 413-549-0022 (Amherst), or 413-737-9700 (Springfield).