What Happens at an Arraignment in Texas after Being Charged with a Crime

Being arrested and charged with a crime, whether minor or serious, is a frightening experience.  The criminal process can be very confusing, and many people don’t know what to expect after being charged with a crime.  After being charged with a crime, an arraignment will be scheduled for you to appear in court where you are formally charged and meet face to face with the prosecutor and a judge.

What is an arraignment?

In Texas, an arraignment is a brief hearing that is conducted after being arrested.  You will appear before a judge, and the prosecutor will read the charges that have been filed against you.  The most important aspect of this short hearing is that the judge will ask you whether you want to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.  You will be asked to acknowledge that you are in fact the person that has been charged.  The judge will tell you what the maximum penalty for your charge is.  This scares many people because the alleged crime may not be deserving of the maximum punishment.

How should I plead?

The most important thing to remember about an arraignment is that you do not have to plead guilty if you in fact committed the crime.  This is confusing because it seems logical to plead guilty if you committed the crime you are charged with.  However, most people plead not guilty because this gives your attorney and the prosecutor time to negotiate.  Oftentimes, crimes can be reduced and negotiated out of court.  If you do decide to plead guilty, the judge may enter a sentence at that time.

Why it is important to seek legal representation?

Because the process of pleading guilty, not guilty, or not contest to a crime you are charged with is extremely confusing and also very important to the outcome of your case, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel immediately.  An experienced attorney will ensure that the police followed all of the proper procedures, and can do so by looking at what is called “discovery.”  This typically consists of the complaint and the police report.

While you certainly can appear for the arraignment without an attorney, this often is not advisable because you are not giving yourself the opportunity to allow an attorney to look at your case and prepare you for what to expect.  Having an attorney stand by your side will provide you with comfort and confidence that you simply will not have by appearing alone.  It is also important not to wait until the last minute to hire an attorney.  If you miss your arraignment, this will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

If you have been charged with a crime, no matter how severe the charge is, and you have an upcoming arraignment hearing, contact our offices as soon as possible.  Attorney Jack Pettit is an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney who will defend your rights to the fullest.  Mr. Pettit will guide you through the arraignment process, advise you of your plea options, and will work diligently to achieve the best outcome possible in your case.  Don’t go through this process alone.  Allow Mr. Pettit to evaluate every single fact of your case, from the time leading up to arrest, to any potential searches.  Sometimes the police make mistakes.  Mr. Pettit will investigate to make sure the charge against you is legitimate.  If you would like to speak with Mr. Pettit to discuss your case, please contact his office at (214) 521-4567.  We offer services in both English and Spanish.  We also accept major credit cards.

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