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What Happens at an Arraignment?


In Los Angeles County the arraignment is the first official court appearance in front of a judge. The defendant will be presented with the charges and will have to enter a plea to those charges. After the plea is entered, the judge will set the next court date and will also set bail for the defendant based on the criminal charges. In my opinion the arraignment in Los Angeles County is a critical stage in the proceedings and should be handled by your chosen criminal lawyer.

There is usually no negotiating for felony criminal charges at the arraignment and a new court date is typically set in order to give the defendant and his or her attorney an opportunity to go over the police report, discuss the case, do any investigation and make a strategic decision on how the case will proceed. However, in misdemeanor cases I see the prosecution and defense negotiating all of the time in order to resolve the case. This usually occurs in cases where the defendant is in custody, does not have a very good defense and wants to take a deal in order to get out of custody and move on with their life.

In some of the courthouses in Los Angeles, the arraignment court is also used to resolve criminal cases. The defendant can either continue the arraignment or enter a not guilty plea and set the next court date for that particular court's early disposition program. If the case is set to be resolved at the next court date, then a probation report will be ordered and the prosecutor will be ready to negotiate at the next court date.b Knowing the particular court system and how cases are dealt with is crucial knowledge your attorney must possess.


In just about all felony and misdemeanor cases, a criminal defendant will need an attorney to represent them at all stages of the case. Even though most courts will let a person represent themselves, the judges typically discourage a person from representing themselves and suggest that they hire their own attorney. The court will even usually give the person some time to hire their own attorney because this right is so important and because people who do not know what they are doing will cause problems in the court and make things move slower than usual and will cause more work for everyone concerned.

If a defendant at an arraignment says they can not affort an attorney then they can apply to see if they qualify to be represented by the Public Defender. If the person qualifies, then a Deputy Public Defender will be appointed to the case and take over representation of the defendant. Sometime the court may still make the person pay for the PD's reprentation, but the fee will not be that high and it will certainly not stop the attorney from doing their job.

In my opinion, you are at an advantage in a criminal case if you hire a private attorney because the private attorney will usually have more time to handle your case and make the moves that will get you the best possible result. Even at the arraignment, having your own attorney can give you an advantage.

Your own attorney will usually go before the court armed with all of the information necessary to properly argue your bail and get you released on your own recognizance or at let set a bail that you may be able to post. Further, the best private criminal defense attorneys will begin the process of figuring out how your case should be dealt with right from the beginning and the arraignment is an important starting point for any criminal case.

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The Hedding Law Firm

Phone: (818) 986-2092 | (866) 986-2092
The Hedding Law Firm
Phone: (818) 986-2092
Encino-San Fernando Valley Address:
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436
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Los Angeles, CA 90071