What Happens At An Arraignment?

Let’s say you, or someone you know, has been charged with a felony criminal offense and is scheduled to appear in state court in Ohio for an “arraignment.” What is that and what should you or your friend, acquaintance, spouse, etc. expect? You might think that an arraignment is some type of “arrangement.” If you thought so, your terminology would be off, but your concept of what goes on in court is actually not too far afield.

An arraignment, in a criminal case, is simply an early-stage court procedure during which a defendant enters a plea, and asks the court to be released upon bail. Typically, a not guilty plea will be entered in a felony case. The court will determine the type and amount of bail, often referred to as “bond.” A bond can be a cash bond, property bond, or own recognizance bond which should be “reasonable” and ensure that the individual reappear for court.

It is highly advantageous for a person to have an attorney hired before the arraignment so that the attorney can do the talking. If a person goes to court but has not had the time to hire an attorney, the court may continue the arraignment to a later date. If the person demonstrates to the court that he or she cannot afford a lawyer, and there exists the possibility of a jail sentence, then the person is entitled to court-appointed counsel at no cost. This is the law of the land in every court in this country—according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the arraignment is not continued, then the court, in addition to entering a plea and setting bond, will typically schedule a trial date, and sometimes a pretrial date. In other words, the timeline is being set for resolution or termination of the case, one way or another.

Your attorney can advise you on more specifics of the process. The bottom line is that once the attorney is in court with his or her client, the client can turn things over to the attorney who will hopefully navigate through the short proceeding in a seamless fashion. In conclusion, an arraignment really is a type of arrangement between the court, the defendant, and the attorney concerning the plea, bond, and future court dates. While it is the court’s prerogative to determine bond, and schedule future court appearances, the choice of plea remains within the grasp of the defendant.

If you have any questions or need legal assistance with a criminal law matter, please feel free to contact my office by phone at 419-242-2131.

Michael J. Antonini, Esq.


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