What is a Criminal Arraignment?

In State court, a criminal arraignment is the first hearing after the State has filed charges against you. Remember, just because the police have arrested you for a crime they think you committed, the State of Florida is still required to bring formal charges against you. If the State does file charges, an arraignment will take place where you are advised of the charges against you and then you will enter a plea of not guilty, guilty or no contest. In most instances, I enter a not guilty plea on behalf of my client so that I have the necessary time to review what the evidence is against my client. I can also appear on behalf of my client, so my client does not need to show up for the arraignment. It’s important to remember that even if you don’t have an attorney at the arraignment you can and should ask the judge for more time, so you can hire one. Most judges will give you more time to hire an attorney.

In Federal Court, the arraignment normally occurs after a grand jury has indicted the person the Government was investigating. An indictment is the actual charging document in Federal Court. The arraignment usually occurs just after being arrested following a grand jury indictment and a detention hearing determining whether you can be released on conditions usually occurs at the same time. Thus, it is very important to contact an experienced Federal criminal defense attorney if you know you are being investigated by the Federal Government because you will need an attorney there on your behalf to argue for your release after you have been arrested.

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Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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