Arraignment in New York: What to Expect

Arraignment in New York: What to Expect

It might come as a surprise, but a defendant doesn’t go from arrest to criminal trial overnight. There are several intervening procedures that take place before a defendant appears in front of a jury. The first step in any criminal matter in New York is an arraignment.

Arraignment in New York is the first appearance after an arrest. The arraignment process takes place in a courtroom, in front of a judge, and follows a specific set of rules and requirements. While very early in the criminal justice process, arraignment in New York is vitally important to any criminal case. Here’s what you need to know and can expect at an arraignment.

When: Timing and Time frame for Arraignment

Under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and state law, an arraignment in New York must take place within a reasonable time after arrest.

What is considered reasonable can differ based on the time of your arrest and availability of a judge to preside over the hearing. For example, the government is given more time to hear an arraignment when the defendant is arrested on a weekend. In most instances, however, and specifically in New York City,  a defendant is arraigned within 24 hours after the arrest.

In the timeline of a criminal case, arraignment is very early in the process. At this time, while the prosecutor has evidence of a crime, they are not obligated so early in the process to present the case to a judge or jury. As well, a defense lawyer may only have hours to prepare for an arraignment in New York. An arraignment takes place at such an early point in the case that both sides are still formulating the arguments and strategies of their case.

Who: Required Parties at Arraignment in New York

At every arraignment, a judge and the prosecutor are present. The arraignment is an official court proceeding during which official statements are entered into the court record. Therefore, a court reporter and other administrative court personnel are also in attendance.

You should also have a New York criminal defense lawyer at your arraignment. An experienced defense lawyer can begin to work on your case at this early stage in the criminal process, including:

  • Advice on entering a plea;
  • Arguing for your pre-trial release;
  • Explaining the process of bail and bail conditions; and
  • Ensuring your rights are protected.

Without a criminal defense lawyer you trust at your arraignment, you give the prosecutor an opportunity to potentially win early arguments in your case.

What: The Purpose and Outcome of Arraignment

The primary purpose of arraignment in New York is to formally charge an individual with a crime or crimes. The judge will read the charges against the defendant. For each count on the  the judge will require the defendant to enter a plea. At arraignment, the defendant must plead:

  • Guilty or
  • Not guilty

In most cases, pre-trial release and bail are also determined during an arraignment. These steps in a criminal case can occur in a separate, later hearing, but for the sake of efficiency are usually incorporated into arraignment in New York.

  • The prosecutor will either argue for the defendant’s remand to jail to await trial request a specific amount for bail or consent to the defendant’s release.
  • The judge will hear evidence showing the defendant is a flight risk or danger to society and arguments from defense counsel of the opposite.
  • An amount is set for bail and any conditions to pre-trial release of the defendant.

Contact a Lawyer for Arraignment in New York

If you or a loved one is facing arrest and arraignment for any crimes, it is time to speak with a criminal defense lawyer. Having a lawyer present for arraignment in New York could impact the outcome of this crucial hearing and set the tone for your criminal case. To learn more contact the team at the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman at (212) 951-1232.