The first court appearance a defendant will have in a criminal case is an arraignment. An arraignment is required to take place very quickly after an arrest. At an arraignment, it is always wise to enter a plea of not guilty so that the facts and circumstance of the case can be fully assessed. A person can always change their plea at a later time if they wish.
One of the most important parts of an arraignment, and certainly an important reason to have an skilled Massachusetts arraignment attorney with you at your arraignment, is that your bail amount and terms of release will be set at your arraignment. When determining whether to set bail for a defendant and at what amount, the court will be asking how much bail is needed to ensure the defendant returns to court on his or her next court date. When a person fails to appear at a court date, they are said to have “defaulted” on that court appearance. A defendant with a history of defaults is likely to have a high bail amount set since the court will have less confidence that the defendant will return for his or her next court date.
An experienced Massachusetts arraignment attorney can make an effective argument on your behalf to have your bail set at an affordable amount, or even have you released on personal recognizance. Being released on personal recognizance means that you are able to leave the courthouse without paying bail on the promise that you will return for your next court date, which is often months later. Having a high bail amount can cause a great amount of strain to you and your family. It often means having to come up with a large sum of money in order to leave jail. If the bail amount is too high to afford, you will have to stay in jail while you await your next court date. The court will decide your next court date during the arraignment. Having an attorney with you at your arraignment can be beneficial, even if you have a history of defaults. A skilled attorney may know an effective argument to make to the court to get your bail set at a reasonable amount.
Another reason having an attorney with you at your arraignment is beneficial relates to the charge you are facing. An attorney may be able to argue to get the charge you are facing reduced at the arraignment. Though much negotiation occurs at later court dates, the arraignment is often your attorney’s first chance to see evidence of the crime, such as the police report. The attorney is also able to speak to prosecutors and try to negotiate charges down to a lesser offense.
If you or a loved one needs an experienced and skilled Massachusetts arraignment attorney, contact Attorney Cappetta today for a free discussion of your situation.