Arraignment Proceedings in New York City

As all experienced New York City criminal defense attorneys know, it is at arraignment that a pre-arraignment detainee finally becomes the criminal defendant in any prosecution by the state. Arguably the most critical proceeding in the criminal justice system, arraignment is where the right to counsel – a fundamental right enshrined in both the federal and state constitutions – attaches. After which, the “presence of counsel at each subsequent critical stage of the proceedings” is required. Hurrell-Harring v. State, 15 N.Y.3d 8, 20 (2010). Before this point in the arrest process, an arrestee or pre-arraignment detainee may be held without counsel, and there is no requirement that a lawyer be present at any interrogation or interview with law enforcement. Unless, of course, a lawyer has been explicitly requested or they have “communicated with the police” that you have retained one. People v. Grice, 100 N.Y.2d 318, 321 (2003). One of our skilled attorneys could help you through your arraignment proceeding in New York City.

What Happens During an Arraignment?

The usual course of being arraigned on a criminal complaint after arrest in New York City is relatively straightforward. After arrest and a period of pre-arraignment detention in a holding cell, you will be brought to an arraignment part of the New York City Criminal Court of the borough or county you were arrested in. During arraignment proceedings, prosecutors read, in open court, the misdemeanor or felony charges that have been filed, and arguments will be heard by a New York City Criminal Court judge on the issue of bail.

For the first time in the arrest process, both the prosecutor and the defense lawyer, either previously retained or assigned by the court, will be present alongside you. If it is one of our top defense lawyers, you will be advised as to the nature of the charges filed and whether they are a felony, misdemeanor, or violation. Additionally, if retained early enough in the process, a more formal bail application may be made, including submission of gathered letters from friends or family illustrating your substantial ties to the community and assuring the court of your future attendance at any subsequent proceedings. Additionally, in cases where a misdemeanor or felony complaint has been filed, there may be decisions to be made relating to the often-disputed issue of speedy trial under Section 30.30 of New York’s Rules of Criminal Procedure. This is especially true in cases involving any charged felony, as a grand jury presentation may push prosecutors near the end of the statutory clock to declare readiness for trial.

What Happens After the Arraignment?

In New York City, the way a case proceeds following an arraignment will depend on specific charges and the circumstances surrounding the offense. Whether a defendant is released or remains in custody pending trial, the court case may continue.

The next step in a criminal case depends primarily on the severity of the charge. For misdemeanors that are not resolved at arraignment, the court will typically set a new court date. This court date could be within a matter of weeks or as many as three months away. This hearing could serve a number of purposes. It could be the opportunity for the court to settle discovery disputes or hear other motions. It could also serve as the date that the parties enter a disposition. It is unlikely the trial will occur on this first setting, however. Trial dates are usually at least six months after the date of the arraignment.

There is an additional step following an arraignment for felony charges. In these cases, the prosecution will provide a defendant with notice that they intend to present felony charges to a grand jury. The grand jury ultimately determines if charges are warranted.

Missing Arraignment

For most serious offenses, the arresting officers require anyone they arrest to remain in custody until the date of their arraignment. While the law requires these proceedings to occur within 24 hours, there are a number of exceptions that allow prosecutors to push it back. In some cases, the officers will allow the person who was arrested to leave jail on their own recognizance pending arraignment. This is typically done in non-felony cases with what is known as an appearance ticket. Often, this requires some form of posted bail. Anyone who fails to appear at their arraignment could forfeit their bail and face additional charges of failure to respond to an appearance ticket. This form of violation carries up to 15 days in jail upon conviction.

Speak with a New York City Attorney About Arraignment Proceedings

Whatever the offense charged in your case, the effect of retained counsel both before and at arraignment proceedings in New York City is substantial. Make sure the arrest process is handled properly by retaining experienced criminal defense attorneys as early as possible. While we cannot guarantee a particular outcome to your or their case, we can guarantee retaining a lawyer early on in the process will increase the odds of receiving a favorable bail order at arraignment. Call us today to schedule a free consultation on how we can help with your or your loved one’s bail hearing at arraignment.

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