Arraignment, Bail And Defense Motions

What happens at arraignment?

In most jurisdictions, your arraignment will be your first appearance in court whether or not you are in custody. At arraignment, your attorney will usually receive the police reports on your case and any additional evidence that the prosecutor has in his or her possession. Your criminal defense lawyer will also receive a formal complaint which states the charges that have been filed against you. It is important to note that the charges may be different than those for which you were arrested. While the police can arrest you for one pair of charges, the prosecutor’s office may disagree and file a completely different set of charges if they feel the facts warrant.

Can the court set bail?

If you are in custody, your attorney will have the opportunity to argue bail. However, it is important to note some courts will not hear a bail argument without what is commonly referred to as an “OR Report.” “OR” stands for “Own Recognizance.” The “OR” clerk will interview you to see if you present a risk of flight. They will ask about your personal background, your job, where you live, your job history, and what family support you have within the community. Because this is a bail hearing, the only inquiries are: 1) whether or not you are likely to flee the state or country if released on just your promise to return for all court proceedings in your case; and 2) the seriousness of the case.

After the arraignment

In most jurisdictions, your next date in court will be the pretrial conference. At the pretrial conference, important motions can be argued that can affect your case.

Motion to suppress

A Motion to Suppress is filed when your criminal lawyer believes that there are grounds to suppress either physical evidence taken from you or statements made by you.

Motion to dismiss

A Motion to Dismiss will be filed by your criminal defense lawyer if he/she believes there was insufficient evidence at the preliminary hearing from which the judge could make a finding of probable cause.

Motion to release information

In certain types of felony cases, most notably sex abuse and child molestation cases, the victims psychological OR medical records may be relevant. A motion will be filed by your attorney to disclose that information. It is not automatically disclosed because of its privileged nature.

Motion to sever

In various circumstances, your criminal defense lawyer may wish to have your case separated from that of a codefendant or have one or more of your charges tried separately from the others.

At this conference, your criminal defense lawyer will have the opportunity to continue discussions with the prosecutor in an attempt to reach a plea bargain, if that is what you and the attorney are seeking. Possible favorable dispositions may include a plea bargain that would strike a prior conviction or a plea bargain that would reduce the charge. Practically speaking, this means that your attorney can request that the offense be reduced to a misdemeanor either during your probationary period or at the end of your probationary period.

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