person in handcuffs at court in front of people

The Pitfalls of Arraignment

The purpose of arraignment is to verify a person’s identity and hear his plea. You will need to attend the arraignment if you have not hired an attorney.

An arraignment is a person’s first court appearance following an arrest. The judge will publicly read the charges against the accused. The judge will also discuss the rights of the accused.

If you attend the arraignment you may be given the opportunity to speak with the prosecutors. Defendants are often asked if they would like to enter into a guilty plea in exchange for a plea bargain. One type of plea bargain the State may offer is for probation. This is where you have to be careful. Although the terms of the probation may seem reasonable, there are often many harmful collateral consequences which can result from a guilty plea. Examples include but are not limited to: days in jail as a condition of the probation, your driver’s license may be suspended, you may not possess or consume alcohol, you cannot purchase or possess a firearm.

Remember, the prosecutors do not represent you and they do not have to inform you of the many consequences of entering into their plea bargains. Many people are first informed of these consequences weeks or sometimes months later. The prosecutors do not have to inform you that there is a difference between probation and deferred adjudication. A plea for probation results in a conviction; whereas, a plea for deferred adjudication does not. Successful completion of a deferred adjudication allows for the possibility of a non-disclosure; whereas, completing probation oftentimes does not provide for a non-disclosure.

The best course of action for any individual charged with a criminal offense is to secure a defense attorney as soon as possible. Having representation prior to the arraignment presents the opportunity for counsel to provide legal guidance and support during a stressful time.

It is advisable to hire a criminal defense attorney in Tyler because they can advise the client on how to prepare for arraignment and help the client determine the best course of action when it comes to entering a plea. We offer free consultations, so call us to discuss your pending legal matter.