What to expect at the arraignment

If someone is facing a drug-related charge, one of the first steps after the arrest is the initial hearing, also known as the arraignment. Facing a court hearing can be intimidating, although this initial one is brief.

This hearing includes some basics such as charges review, attorney assignment and bail. Knowing what to expect can help ease the defendant’s stress and help him or her prepare.

Arraignment basics

According to the United States Department of Justice, Offices of the United States Attorneys, the initial hearing takes place the same day of, or after, the arrest. The judge informs the defendant more about the charges and of rights, such as to have an attorney.

Ideally, the defendant should request an attorney immediately after the arresting officer reads the Miranda rights. However, if the defendant does not have a lawyer at the time of the arraignment, the judge will assign one. If the defendant cannot afford counsel, a public defendant takes on the case, and the defendant does not have to pay.

Talking to an attorney prior to the hearing is beneficial, as the judge will ask the defendant if she or he is guilty or not guilty, and being able to answer this correctly is important.

Bail determination

During this hearing, the judge also determines bail. According to the American Bar Association, some factors the judge considers before approving release on bail are:

  • The type of alleged crime
  • The level of flee risk
  • If the defendant poses a danger to the community

In rare circumstances, a judge may release the defendant without requiring bail. Factors for this include community roots, a steady job and personal circumstances.