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Arraignments in Texas

In many kinds of legal matters, people spend months or years thinking of how to solve the problem on their own before they hire a lawyer. New clients of estate planning lawyers may have already written their wills and have researched trusts, retirement savings, and other ways to support themselves and their families before they realize that they need a lawyer’s help. Most people who contact personal injury lawyers only do so after the medical bills keep piling up and getting an adequate settlement from the insurance company turns out to be more difficult than they realized. Only the most short-tempered person would contact a family law attorney about enforcing a parenting plan without first trying to work things out by talking to their ex-spouse directly. In a criminal defense case, though, you must act quickly because the first court hearing happens very soon after your arrest.

A Texas criminal defense lawyer can help you prepare for your arraignment and all other aspects of your criminal case.

What Happens at an Arraignment and Why?

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a fair trial and to due process of law. This requires the defendant to know which charges he or she is facing in order to present appropriate defenses at trial. When the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which includes the Sixth Amendment, were written, most people did not know how to read, so the only way to be sure that they knew about the charges was to read them out loud. Therefore, the judge must read the charges out loud to the defendant at the arraignment. In the interest of ensuring a speedy trial, most arraignments happen about 72 hours after the defendant’s arrest.

Pleas You Can Enter at an Arraignment

After the judge reads the charges at the arraignment, the defendant must enter a plea. These are the plea options:

● Guilty – The defendant admits fault for the alleged crimes. The case then proceeds to sentencing.

● No contest – The defendant does not admit fault but still accepts a sentence. Some defendants in financial crime and sex crime cases choose a no-contest plea instead of a guilty plea because they could face civil lawsuits related to the alleged crime, and a no-contest plea will not count against them in a civil case the way that a guilty plea would.

● Not guilty – You deny the allegations against you. The case proceeds to trial, although there may be additional pretrial hearings. By entering a not-guilty plea, you acknowledge that the justice system has acted properly in bringing the charges against you.

● Mute plea – You do not enter a plea, but the court records it as “not guilty,” but you do not acknowledge that the justice system has acted properly in bringing the charges against you.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, About Tax Evasion Cases

You should hire a criminal defense lawyer if you are facing an arraignment soon. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, to speak with a Dallas, Texas, criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

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