If this is your first time being arrested, you might have a few questions about the process, like what exactly is an arraignment and what happens during that time? In a nutshell, your arraignment is a formal reading of the charges against you. At this time, you will also be expected to enter a plea. In most cases, the arraignment is broken up into two different parts. There’s an initial arraignment and a post-indictment arraignment.Your Constitutional Right to Counsel
As a defendant and an American citizen, you have the constitutional right to counsel. This means that it’s your right to have an attorney represent you during all of these criminal justice proceedings. The State of Mississippi will have highly-trained prosecutors trying their very best to pin the crime on you. Don’t go into an arraignment without your attorney. It’s your right. You will need all the help you can get too, because your future is on the line. Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges, even a seemingly minor conviction will follow you around for life.Public Defender or Hired Criminal Defense Attorney
Although many people in Jackson and across Mississippi are represented by public defenders every day, it’s not always the best choice. Sure, a public defender sounds like the cheap and easy choice, but your future is at stake. These are the “if you cannot afford an attorney” attorneys. While most of them are incredibly skilled and professional, they are simply not setup for the success of their defendants. They’re overburdened and have limited resources for your defense. Even if it’s a budgetary stretch, the best decision you can make after an arrest is to hire an experienced and proven criminal defense attorney.What to Expect at a Mississippi Arraignment
- Charges will be read.
- The defendant will be asked if he or she has a lawyer or needs a public defender.
- Defendant will enter a plea of “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.”
- Bail will be decided upon.
- Dates for future case proceedings will be announced.
The initial arraignment will usually be scheduled within 48 hours of the arrest. In cases that occur over the weekend, the defendant will typically have to wait until Monday to see a judge. At this time, you will be informed of the official charges. You will be reminded of your right to counsel. You will most likely be asked if you have a lawyer, or if you need a public defender. The judge will also decide whether or not to set bail, and if so, how much.Post-Indictment Arraignment
In cases where you have two arraignments, you will be asked to enter a plea at the second appointment. Make sure to retain and speak with your lawyer before entering into a plea. You should have a game plan decided upon before you enter a plea. Ideally, you will be pleading “not guilty,” and your criminal defense attorney will have a great head start on getting you cleared of all charges. Since not all cases are the same, it’s absolutely critical to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after being arrested. You want your lawyer to have plenty of time to work on your defense.Communicating With Your Lawyer
One of the most important parts of the attorney-client relationship is an open line of communication. The information you tell your lawyer is privileged. This means that it’s just between the two of you. The only way your attorney can do his or her job is by knowing all the facts of the case. Additionally, the lawyer you choose should also be readily available to aid in your defense. A good lawyer will be your only advocate in a criminal justice system where the cards are stacked against you, so make sure you choose one with proven experience and excellent communication skills.When to Call a Criminal Defense Attorney in Jackson
As soon as you’ve been arrested, you need to call a lawyer. Don’t talk to investigators or interrogators without your lawyer present. As soon as you get that phone call, contact your attorney. The sooner the better, and your lawyer can let your family members know what’s going on too. If you are facing arraignment in Jackson, you need to have your lawyer by your side. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The state will have plenty of legal professionals on their side, so you need a dedicated team looking out for your rights too. Contact the skilled team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC for a case consultation today.