What is an Arraignment Hearing in California Criminal Court?
The first formal court proceeding in a criminal case in California is the arraignment. If you’re being charged with a felony, the arraignment must take place within 48 hours of your arrest if you’re in custody. When the defendant is not held in custody, the arraignment must take place “without necessary delay.”
What happens during an arraignment?
The arraignment is the beginning of your criminal court case. Four things take place at this initial court appearance.
- The courts will read you your constitutional rights.
- Then you will learn the charges you’re facing.
- The defendant (you) will enter a plea (such as guilty, not guilty or no contest).
- The court will set your bail.
If the prosecution delays your arraignment outside of the normal guidelines, you can plead for unlawful detention. While your case might not be thrown out automatically in this situation, you can work with a California criminal defense attorney to argue the following.
- The delay in your trial deprived you of a fair trial
- The trial’s delay made you suffer prejudice or an unfair injury
These situations are a bit harder to prove if you are not being held in custody because the wording of the laws is so broad in stating that it must occur without unnecessary delay. In these cases, the arraignment can take several weeks or even months to occur.
Once this process takes place, the legal proceedings in your case are underway. At this point, the law states that you have the right to a speedy trial. In a felony case, the right to a speedy trial means that the trial should be brought within 60 days of your arraignment.
What are my Constitutional rights during an arraignment?
Your rights during a California criminal case arraignment are outlined in the Constitution. These rights include the following.
- You have a right to legal representation during your arraignment, which can be a criminal defense attorney that you hire or a public defender.
- You do not have to incriminate yourself in any way during legal proceedings.
- You have the right to a speedy trial.
- You have the right to a trial by jury.
- You have the right to confront witnesses and bring forth witnesses for your case.
When can I expect a trial date after arraignment in California?
Now that you’ve made it through the arraignment process, your next big question is probably gaining information about the trial. The best way to understand the legal process when facing criminal charges is to hire a defense attorney.
Throughout the case, your attorney will be looking out for your best interests and helping you understand what’s going on. The attorney will walk you through the next steps and what to expect, all the while making sure you don’t say or do the wrong thing during your trial.
In some cases, your attorney will actually fight for your right to delay your case. There are a variety of reasons your legal team might want to delay legal proceedings to protect you from harm. These reasons include the following.
- You are incapacitated in some way.
- Your defense team recently became aware of new evidence.
- There are complexities to your case that make it not ideal for a speedy trial.
- In cases with multiple defendants, you might prefer a joint trial.
- The courts made some error in filing the case.
- Severe impacts are affecting the state or courts, such as a global pandemic, terrorist activity, etc.
How to best understand California’s legal system
As you go through a criminal defense, you’ll likely have many questions. While the courts can answer these questions for you, it might take a great deal of time and leave you with anxiety and worry. The best way to understand California’s legal system is to hire a criminal defense attorney.
You’ll be able to ask questions freely and get answers quickly. The defense attorney will also be looking out for your best interests throughout the court case. Contact us if you need a California criminal defense attorney.