In Virginia, a criminal arraignment is often the first time that someone accused of a crime will go to court. This initial court appearance occurs very quickly. Often, it happens the next business day if the person accused of a crime is in jail or within a few business days if the person is out on bond.
What to Expect During an Arraignment
If you’ve been accused of a crime, you should expect the court to:
- Explain the charges against you. You have a right to know the specific laws that you are accused of breaking.
- Ensure you understand the charges. The judge may ask if you understand or if you need assistance from an attorney, an interpreter, or someone else to understand the charges you face.
- Inform you that you have a right to an attorney. The court will likely also ask what your plans are for counsel if your attorney is not with you at the arraignment. You may hire your own defense attorney, a public defender may be assigned to your case if you cannot afford a lawyer, or you may choose to represent yourself.
- Ask you how you plead. You may plead guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendre, but you should only enter a plea after consulting with your criminal defense lawyer.
- Inform you of what happens next. If possible, the judge will let you know the date of your next court appearance.
You have the right to waive your arraignment if you have been accused of a felony or misdemeanor. However, like any decision in a criminal case, you should consult with a criminal defense lawyer who wants to achieve the best possible result for you before you make any decisions.
Have you been accused of a crime in Midlothian, Chesterfield County, or the greater Richmond area? Contact Quest Law PLLC today to set up an initial meeting with a criminal defense lawyer. We will look out for your best interests and make sure your legal rights are protected at your arraignment and throughout your entire criminal case.