What to Expect at an Arraignment

sebastian-pichler-25154-copy-300x200At an arraignment, the crimes that you are charged with will be formally read aloud in court. In the Illinois Justice System, you will have this hearing no matter what degree of crime you were charged with (misdemeanor or felony). Here is what you should expect to happen at most standard arraignments.

The Basics

Arraignments should be held within a reasonable time frame, as dictated by the sixth amendment. If an arraignment is set for six months or more after the time of your arrest, your attorney may petition for dismissal.

You can waive your right to an arraignment. However, they do have benefits. This is where the statute of limitations on your case may be determined. It is also where your public attorney will be appointed if you choose not to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

When you arrive at your arraignment, typically the following will occur:

  • You are read your rights
  • The court appoints an attorney
  • You enter a plea
  • If you plead guilty, you may be sentenced at this time
  • If applicable, bail is set

Plea Options

There are two main plea options and two that are used less often. Below are the details of what each plea means. The judge will ask you how you plea at the arraignment. You simply need to say your plea choice followed by “your honor.”

  • Guilty plea: This is a complete admission to guilt. You accept all of the facts that have been presented thus far to be true and admit to committing the crime with which you are charged.
  • Not guilty plea: This is a complete denial of all charges. You claim that you did not commit the crime and that the facts that were presented are either false or misconstrued.
  • No-contest plea: Defendants that enter this plea usually foresee a civil suit in their future. Because of this, they will neither confirm nor deny their guilt. By pleading this way, you admit that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict you, but assert your innocence.
  • Mute plea: A mute plea occurs when you do not vocally state how you plea. In this case, the court defaults your case to a not guilty plea. If you use this form of plea, you can deny the correctness of your processing.

Plea Agreements

You and your criminal defense lawyer may choose to meet with the prosecution before the arraignment. You may be offered a plea agreement, or your attorney may negotiate one. These contracts are contingent on your pleading guilty to the charged offenses.

If you do not want a guilty plea on your record, then a plea agreement may not be for you. If you are okay with pleading guilty, then this contract can often result in a lesser sentence. Your lawyer may or may not advise you to take the deal, which is usually based on how likely you are to be proven innocent.  

The Trial

If you plead not guilty, a trial date will be set. In Illinois, this date is required to be within 120 to 160 days of your arrest. There will be a jury that will decide your degree of guilt or innocence. The judge will set your sentence. You will have 30 days to appeal if you do not agree with the verdict.

If you plead guilty, you will have a conviction on your record. The court will then arrange your probation or jail sentence.

If you are charged with a crime, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. David Freidberg will be by your side the entire time and help walk you through the process.

Call 312-560-7100 for a free consultation, today. You do not want to wait too long. The sooner we get started on your case, the sooner we can help prove your innocence or reduce your sentence.

(image courtesy of Sebastian Pichler)