Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Your first court appearance: The Arraignment.

Posted on: July 23, 2007 at 12:14 a.m.

In criminal cases, the first court appearance is called an "arraignment." The court advises a defendant of the pending charges, and asks for a "plea." At this time, the defendant can ask for a continuance to study the case and consult with an attorney. In this case, arraignment will be put off to another day, so that the defendant will be ordered to return to the same courtroom on a future date. On the other hand, the defendant can enter a plea of "not guilty." If this happens, the case will be sent to another courtroom for pretrial conference, on a future date. Finally, a "guilty" plea may be entered, and defendant will be sentenced to the terms laid out by the court. The guilty plea is done in open court, on the record. Once taken, a plea of guilty is almost impossible to undo. You have tread very carefully if you are not represented by counsel at the time of an arraingment.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, federal law and defense

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