Preliminary Arraignment

It is human nature to be frightened of the penalties that one faces once charged with committing a crime. And when your case goes to the criminal justice system, it is equally likely that you will get more anxious with all the prolonged and confusing hearings and the stream of procedures which will help in determining the outcome of your case. Worse, most suspects end up negotiating these complicated proceedings while in jail.

Having a basic understanding of the procedures you will face in the criminal justice system will assist you in attaining peace of mind and clarity of understanding. Additionally, our Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyers, with their knowledge about all aspects of the system in Pittsburgh, from the preliminary arraignments to the formal ones, will create a noteworthy difference in the outcome of your case.

What takes place at the time of the preliminary arraignment?

Within 72 hours of their arrest, criminal suspects in Pittsburgh are brought to the District Court. The initial appearance in the court is known as the preliminary arraignment. At this time, the judge will read your charges to you, inform you that you have the right to an attorney, and then set a bail amount for you. When setting bail, he or she will consider many factors, such as your criminal history, your ties to the community, and your occupation.

Should the court consider you to be dangerous and/or not likely to show up for further hearings, the judge will set a high bail amount. If the court thinks you are a flight risk, you won’t get any bail at all and will have to remain jailed until your criminal proceedings are over. If you are an offender that appears to be a low risk, you will get either a bail amount that is low or an ROR (released on your own recognizance.) If you can’t or don’t post bail, you will probably have to stay in jail until the trial’s end.

At the preliminary arraignment, the judge will schedule a preliminary hearing. This hearing will occur anywhere from three to ten days after the preliminary arraignment. The judge, during the preliminary hearing, will consider the evidence presented by the prosecutor and decide if there is enough to connect you to the crime. This will be your first chance to negotiate a plea agreement with the district attorney.

Enter a plea during the formal arraignment

The next step is the formal arraignment, which takes place within 1 to 2 months (30 to 60 days) after the preliminary hearing. It will take place in the Court of Common Pleas and is mostly just a formality. Someone, either the judge or another official of the court, reads the charges that have been filed against you. Depending on the county in which you are being tried, it will be required of you to formally plead one of the following:

  • Not guilty
  • Guilty
  • No contest (means that you don’t deny the charges, but don’t admit them either; this plea results in a conviction of the crime)
  • Stay silent (this is treated as a guilty plea)

If your plea is “not guilty,” the judge presiding over the hearing will inform you that you have a right to file a variety of pretrial motions, like making the prosecution produce documents and asking that certain evidence be excluded. You have a deadline of 30 days after the formal arraignment to file these motions.

A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help!

Even before the trial starts, the help of one of our Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyers will be essential during the process’ early stages. Your lawyer can look at the evidence and tell you what the likely outcome will be for pleading not guilty or negotiating a plea deal, and can recommend a course of action to you that will get you the best outcome. Additionally, having a lawyer by your side from the outset will give you a head start on things like filing paperwork, since you only have a limited time in which to do it.

The Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys at Sean Logue Law believe that you stand the finest chance to obtain a good resolution for your case if they stand beside you from the beginning. To learn more, call us today at 1-844-PITT-DUI or (412) 389-0805. Or, you can contact us online.

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