Misdemeanor Arriagnment

When you are charged with a misdemeanor crime you generally will receive a citation or a notice to appear in court with a set date. That date will be your first appearance before the court unless you receive a notice of correction with a changed date.

The arraignment proceeding is completely procedural, which means you will not be able to argue your case before the court. The court will call your case, the court will inform you of your charges and your constitutional rights including your right to counsel.

If you are in custody at the time of your arraignment there are two issues you can address to the court: 1) Bail Reduction and 2) Probable Cause Hearing

Bail Reduction/ OR Release

Your entitled to be released on your own-recognizance unless the court makes a finding on the record that your release will compromise public safety or you are a flight risk. The court will look at a variety factors such as: 1) community ties, employment and sources of income, duration and location of where you live, property holdings, and family attachments. You bear the burden of proving these things through evidence.

However, if the court denies you to be released, you can follow it up by asking the court to reduce the amount of your bail. The court will look at the protection of the public, seriousness of your offense, your criminal history, and whether you are a flight risk. That is why it is important to retain an attorney before your arraignment date to make these arguments on your behalf.

 Probable Cause Hearing

Your attorney should consider making a probable cause motion when you want the court to make an independent judicial determination of whether there is probable cause to believe that 1) public offense has been committed and 2) you are guilty of that offense. This is a low standard but it is worth making the motion. You must be in custody at the arraignment and you must plead not guilty to move for this. The court will consider arrest warrants with supporting affidavits; 2) sworn documents including the police report and any other documents of similar reliability. If the court finds there is a lack of probable cause, the court will dismiss the complaint and release you.

Furthermore, after these procedures (if applicable to your situation) the court will then ask how would you like to proceed with your plea. This is why it is extremely important to hire an attorney from beginning to conduct the arraignment proceeding correctly.