Arraignment: What In The World Is It?

Arraignment

Arraignment - The Basics

An arraignment is nothing to be afraid of. You should view your arraignment as an opportunity that you can take advantage of. But we’ll discuss that later on.

Your arraignment is the day that the government declares the crime or crimes they accuse you of committing. It is a run-of-the-mill court proceeding, and it is uneventful. Once the judge reads your criminal charges out loud, the judge will ask you if plead guilty or not guilty. In every arraignment, your defense attorney will enter a “not guilty” plea on your behalf.

Arraignment - When does it happen?

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, your arraignment will take place during your first court appearance. However, if you are charged with an indictable offense (felony) in New Jersey, your arraignment will take place shortly after you get indicted.

Arraignment - Is It Necessary?

An arraignment is very necessary because it serves a few important purposes. 

First, you will have an opportunity to tell the judge whether you can afford a private attorney. Since you have a Constitutional right to an attorney, the judge will inform you of your right to apply for the services of a public defender. Next, the judge will teach you about your right to a trial. Remember, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a reasonable doubt. Just because you are being accused of committing a crime doesn’t mean that you committed a crime. Everyone in the United States has a Constitutional Right to their day in court. Last, if you do not qualify for a public defender and wish to hire a private attorney, the judge will give you a reasonable time to find an attorney. 

You should view your arraignment as something good. It is a Constitutional safeguard designed to protect you. No one is determining your guilt or innocence during your arraignment. It’s intended to teach you about the charges you are facing and advise you of your Constitutional rights.

Breaking Down The Arraignment Into Small Parts

During your arraignment, you will be in a courtroom with a lot of other defendants. Everyone is in the same situation as you. It’s the first day of a long process and it’s ok to be nervous. You will most likely have an attorney on the day of your arraignment. If you don’t, that’s ok. As explained before, the judge will give you time to find & hire a criminal defense attorney

Once your name is called, you will proceed with your attorney to the front of the courtroom. You will stand next to your attorney on one side of the and the prosecutor will be on the other side. The judge will ask for your attorney’s appearance to be placed on the record & the prosecutor must do the same.

Next, the judge will read the criminal charges against you out loud. Sometimes the judge will ask your attorney if he/she wishes to “waive the reading” of the charges. Since your attorney has discussed the charges you are facing prior to your arraignment, he/she will most likely agree to “waive the reading” of the charges. 

Next, the judge will ask, “how do you plead to these charges?”.
You will have the following choices:

Plead Guilty

You will have to admit what you did under oath. This option will leave you with a criminal conviction. It will stay on your record for years before it can be expunged. And it will show up a background check.

Plead Not Guilty

This means that judge will set a scheduling order for your next court appearance. During this time, the prosecutor must provide your defense attorney with all of the evidence against you. Your defense attorney will review the evidence with you and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

Waiving The Arraignment

If you hired a defense attorney soon after your arrest, then he/she will have researched the criminal charges against you. Your defense attorney does not have to wait for the day of your arraignment to discuss your case with the prosecutor. For this reason, it is very important to hire a criminal lawyer soon after your arrest. 

Your attorney can quickly start the plea bargaining process days & weeks ahead of your arraignment. This is advantageous for you because many criminal cases can get dismissed or settled before your first court appearance. By hiring a criminal lawyer immediately after your arrest, he/she has the advantage of visiting the “scene of the crime” to secure favorable evidence for you.

Defendants often make the mistake of waiting too long before hiring a lawyer. The problem is that the longer you wait, the greater the likelihood of losing evidence. For example, if you were charged with aggravated assault during a bar fight, it is important for your lawyer to get the bar surveillance video before it is destroyed. One of our clients was in this situation and hired us the day after the police charged him with aggravated assault during a bar brawl. We quickly visited the bar, obtained the video, and learned from the video that our client was acting in self-defense. The prosecutor saw this video and agreed to dismiss his criminal charges. Had we visited the bar weeks or months after our client’s arrest, chances are great that the bar would’ve destroyed their security footage.

If you hire an attorney soon after your arrest, your attorney can ask the judge to waive your first appearance. However, for more serious crimes like murder & aggravated sexual assault, the judge will require your appearance.

Arraignment & Bail

If you are charged with a violent felony, you will be held in jail until your arraignment. Since you are facing serious criminal charges, you may be considered a “danger to society” and a “flight risk”. New Jersey bail laws have changed. 

Now, if you are jailed & facing serious criminal charges, you will undergo a Public Safety Assessment (PSA). This test takes into consideration two risk scales: 1) Failure to Appear for Future Court Dates & 2) Risk for New Criminal Activity

Some of the things that the PSA considers are:

  • Criminal history – Have you ever been convicted of a crime or do you have a clean record?
  • Current criminal charges – How serious are the charges you’re facing? Murder or Shoplifting?
  • The danger you pose to the community – if you are released, will you injure another person

Depending on your PSA score, the criminal charges you are facing, and your criminal history, the judge may deny your release from jail. You can appeal the judge’s decision but if you’re appeal is denied, then you will remain in jail until your criminal case is resolved through a plea deal or at trial.

Taking Advantage of an arraignment

Although you may wish to waive your arraignment, there are excellent reasons to appear for it. As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When you appear for your arraignment, you are showing the judge you intend to defend the charges against you. You are innocent & the truth will prevail. It’s all about attitude!

You should always appear with a respectful & serious demeanor. Your arraignment is not the time to state your case or argue the law. Think of it as taking a stand. You stand there quietly alongside your attorney & you show the judge through your body language that you are not afraid. You simply show that you trust our justice system & are counting on it to vindicate you.

Arraignment & the Media

If you’re involved in a highly publicized case, you can expect members of the media to show up at your arraignment. If the media approaches you, you should always let your attorney do the talking. Many criminal defense lawyers will answer with a “no comment”. But you should avoid the temptation to state your case to the media. Your emotions are running high and you have less control over what you say.

However, just like it’s important to make your stand in the courtroom, it’s also important to show a strong resolve to fight for your innocence outside of the courtroom. You should walk with your head held high knowing that you will get your day in court. Avoid covering your head & face under your coat. This body language gives off the impression that you have something to hide. Instead, use body language that we would expect of an innocent person.

Arraignment & the Big Picture

In the big picture of things, your arraignment is an uneventful and painless court proceeding. There’s nothing to really be afraid of. Think of it in terms of a football analogy. Your arrest was the pregame warmup and the arraignment is the kickoff that starts the game. 

Remember to contact a criminal lawyer immediately after your arrest & go to your first court appearance with your held high. You will get your day in court & truth always prevails. Well, almost always…

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Practice Areas

Below, you will find a few of our practice areas.

Areas We Serve

Our Hackensack criminal lawyers represent clients in Bergen County & nearby counties & cities. 

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

What our clients say about us

Peyrouton Law
5.0
Based on 108 reviews
Dan kim
Dan kim
20:00 02 Jul 20
Initially, I thought our case was very minor. Come to find out that our situation was actually more complicated and would have had serious consequences had Peyrouton Law not taken our case. From beginning to end, we had peace of mind working with Samera and that we were in good hands and we were taken care of every step of the way. I cannot recommend this firm highly enough. Their professionalism, competency, responsiveness and integrity clearly set them apart from other firms. If you need legal counsel, you must contact Peyrouten Law first!
Junior Garcia
Junior Garcia
17:03 29 Jun 20
The greatest law firm I ever went to!! They handle my situation fast and easy!! Would recommend to anyone!
lea johnson
lea johnson
15:24 25 Jun 20
I can’t say enough great things about Alan and his team at Peyrouton Law. Hiring him was the best decision I could have made in terms of representation in court. His years of experience practicing criminal law in New Jersey make him such a valuable asset to any client. He’s well aquatinted with individuals that work in the court system and he genuinely cared about my case. He took the time to get to know me and advocated on my behalf to the prosecutor and judge. If you are lucky enough to hire Alan, rest assured there are no hidden fees or additional charges for phone calls and emails. Alan and his were always available to answer any questions I had. He was upfront about the expectations of my case and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. To anyone reading this review, I strongly encourage you to hire Alan. 🙂
Edie Nolan
Edie Nolan
21:52 18 Apr 20
The office of Peyrouton Law Helped my family so much, I can't put it into words how much. The day we walked into the office we explained our situation to Alan and his associates and they took on our situation like we were family.
Edward Estupinan
Edward Estupinan
18:04 09 Mar 20
The Peyrouton Law firm is the place to go to if you need great representation. Extremely knowledgeable, honest and prompt. Alan and Kevin got our family through a very difficult and emotional matter quickly and with ease. The office was highly professional, responsive and compassionate. They kept us informed and advised us wisely throughout the entire process. I highly recommend this firm. Karen & Ed E.
traviscp longendyke
traviscp longendyke
15:41 04 Feb 20
Hey, this is Travis. Hope all is well with you guys. I just wanted to reach out and truly thank you guys for everything you did for me and my family and also believing in me at a point when I barely believed in myself. I am off the "conditional probation", and everything is over with. We have our three little beautiful girls (which The youngest just turned one a few days ago), we both have amazing jobs where we are very blessed to be making what we are making for our family, and we are in the process and about to go into contract with buying our first home (a BEAUTIFUL 400,000 dollar home).... Lizzy and myself just wanted to truly thank you guys for believing in me and doing everything you could so I can be in this amazing spot in life that my family is in. I owe a lot of this to you guys and I hope you know what you do does not go unappreciated and you guys are making a huge impact and you guys are a huge help on certain people's lives. This above was a text message that I just sent to Alan and Kevin. For anyone who is looking for AMAZING people to represent you, that will literally do anything and everything they can for you to receive the best outcome, then these are the people you want, I PROMISE you that. They literally made miracles happen on my multiple cases. Alan from day one made me promise him that I would do everything I could to better my life. I did that and in return I received the most amazing lawyers who went above and beyond for me and my family. I couldn’t of created a better pair of lawyers to represent me. If anyone is looking for great results on your case please give Alan and Kevin a shot and I promise you (because I owe a lot of my success right now to these men) that you will not be disappointed and they will do everything they can for you.
Jose Nose
Jose Nose
22:17 03 Feb 20
Alan and Kevin helped me avoid prison on huge drug charges. Then, they beat my DUI case. They’re the perfect combination of aggressive and humble lawyers. Fees are very reasonable and they really cared about me. I totally recommend. My lawyers for life.
Geraldino Fils
Geraldino Fils
00:32 01 Feb 20
Omar Newell
Omar Newell
18:07 23 Jan 20
MY LAWYERS FOR LIFE!!!!!Alan and Kevin are the Best!!!!!!Most genuine lawyers I’ve ever met...they were very detailed and kept me informed about the process every step of the way... These guys have a genuine passion for law and will work endlessly to ensure a favorable outcome... they treat you like family which is what everyone needs when faced with a situation...
Erico Pilates
Erico Pilates
03:18 16 Jan 20
Thank you Dr Peyrouton for your professional advice on my closing issue and for helping me with my litigation case. I am super grateful for a speedy successful outcome on this process.
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How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

Our Practice Areas

Below you will find some but not all of our practice areas. Of course, if you do not see your criminal charges listed, feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We will meet with you to discuss your case & to answer all of your legal concerns. Se habla español tambien!

Areas We Serve

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.