Anyone arrested in New York City for a crime is to be arraigned within 24 hours. An arraignment is a legal process where the person arrested (the defendant) is brought before a criminal court judge. The decisions made at a defendant’s arraignment can have far reaching consequences that can affect the ultimate outcome of the case. If you or a loved one are scheduled for an arraignment procedure in New York City, it is important to understand what the process entails, your rights at the arraignment, and the need to hire an experienced criminal justice attorney in order to protect your rights.
This article offers some information to help you learn more about the arraignment process in New York City and what you need to consider in order to protect yourself.
What Happens After an Arrest?
After an arrest, the New York City Police Department can do one of two things to the person under arrest. First, the police can process the arrestee and release him or her from the police precinct with a document advising the arrestee to appear in court on a particular date. This document is called a Desk Appearance Ticket, or DAT for short. The granting of a DAT allows an arrestee to avoid being in jail for hours until the case is ready to be brought before a judge. This can spare the arrestee the arduous experience of being in a jail cell in central booking around other arrestees who are waiting to see the judge. Whether a DAT is given rests solely within the discretion of the police. Generally, DATs are not given for felonies, domestic violence cases, when a person has an open case, or when an arrestee has an open warrant to return to court. Since police have discretion to grant a DAT on all other cases, having an attorney early on who can speak to the police and convince them to issue a DAT helps ensure the chances of a DAT being issued.
The issuance of a DAT is the not end of the criminal prosecution. There will be an arraignment but, rather than waiting in a jail cell to see the judge, it is merely scheduled on a certain date. On this date, an arraignment will commence.
If a DAT is not issued, the arrestee must go through the arrest process and central booking before his arraignment. The arrest process entails being at the police precinct for hours, being fingerprinted and photographed. It can also include the taking of pedigree information from the arrestee by police. Pedigree information is basic, biographical information about the arrestee such as name, date of birth, address, height, weight, and race. The police often initiate interrogations during the arrest process and statements made during these interrogations can be used against the arrestee in court. It is very important to remember that you have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during any questioning. This, too, is another reason why having an attorney immediately after an arrest is important. An attorney can not only speed up the arrest process by forestalling any interrogation or questioning, but can also protect an arrestee’s rights so that police cannot interrogate or question a suspect at all.
Once the police arrest process is complete, an arrestee will be transferred to central booking. Each county in New York City has a central booking facility. At central booking, an arrestee is fingerprinted, photographed, and given a cursory medical screening. The arrestee is kept in a jail cell during the central booking process. The processing is done by police officers, but not the officer or detective who made the arrest. In some counties, the District Attorney’s Office have set up interview rooms to try to interrogate individuals arrested but not yet arraigned. This is done by prosecutors to solicit statements by the arrestee that can be used against them in court. Again, it is never a good idea to speak to law enforcement without first consulting with an attorney. Everyone arrested has the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions.
An arrestee will remain in central booking until his or her arraignment. This process can take hours, even days. The arrestee will not be arraigned until a criminal complaint is drafted, a process that is handled by the prosecuting office of the county the arrest is made in. Once all paperwork is complete, an arrestee is brought before a judge as a defendant in a criminal case and the arraignment begins.
What is an Arraignment?
An arraignment is a judicial process in which a defendant charged with a crime is brought before a Criminal Court judge. An arraignment serves a few purposes. First, the arraignment is an opportunity for a defendant to be informed of the charges against him and the rights he has going forward. Second, the arraignment is an opportunity for a judge to issue any interim orders that will remain in effect until the case is resolved. These orders are typically orders of protection issued in favor of victims or complainants (individuals complaining of wrongdoing by the defendant) but can also invole orders to surrender passports and suspension of drivers licenses in drinking and driving cases. Third, the arraignment is an opportunity to resolve or settle the matter before it can go any further. Felony cases cannot be resolved at an arraignment for jurisdictional reasons. Misdemeanors and violations, on the other hand, can be resolved at the arraignment proceeding. Offers to settle the case can be made by the prosecutor or the judge. It is absolutely vital to have an attorney that knows the law and is experienced in practicing in each jurisdiction in order to know if the offer being made is a good offer or if it should be turned down. Many people have unwittingly accepted offers that resulted in criminal records or agreed to dispositions that adversely affect immigration or their jobs due to having an attorney that didn’t properly advise them. If the case cannot be resolved at the arraignment, it will be adjourned to a new date.
The most important function of the arraignment process is the setting of bail. Bail is the amount of money that must be put up in order to secure the release of a defendant. Bail is used to ensure that a criminal defendant returns to court when he or she is supposed to. If bail is set and not paid, a defendant will remain incarcerated during the pendency of the criminal case. This means that the defendant will be in jail while the case is going on, no matter how long the case goes on for.
Bail is broken up in a cash amount and a bond amount. Cash bail can be paid directly to the court or, if the defendant is removed to Rikers Island before bail can be paid to the court, at Rikers Island. Once paid, a defendant is released. Bond is paid by a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman is a private agent that will put up the bond amount for the defendant for a fee. This means that one must pay a bail bondsman and, typically, sign a contract in order for the bail bondsman to put up the entire bail amount to secure the release of the defendant. Bail bondsman are important when the bail amount is too high for a defendant’s family to pay.
It is important to note that cash bail is refunded to the person posting it once the case is finished, minus a 3% charge if the case is not dismissed. The refund is made by the New York City Department of Finance and can take up to eight to ten weeks after the case is finished.
A prosecutor can ask a judge to set a bail. Alternatively, a judge, on his or her own accord, can set a bail they deem appropriate. There is a typically an argument between the prosecutor and the defense attorney as to whether bail should be set or how much the bail should be. The judge will then decide if there is a bail and how much it should be. This is referred to as the bail argument. This is an argument you don’t want your attorney to lose!
One of the benefits of having an experienced and aggressive attorney hired early on is that he can advocate for the release of the defendant without bail. Having a hired attorney demonstrates to the court that the defendant is taking the matter seriously and will likely return to court. Also, a hired attorney can begin an investigation and gather information before the arraignment proceeding begins. When a defendant is finally brought before the judge, the attorney will be fully prepared to argue his client’s innocence and for release without bail. Finally, having an experienced litigator make cogent and convincing arguments to a judge at arraignments could mean the difference between a bail that you simply cannot afford and release without bail. Remember, first impressions are just as important in criminal court as they are in everyday life.
Sometimes the term “R.O.R.” will be heard during the arraignment process. R.O.R. stands for Release on Recognizance or Release on one’s own Recognizance. This is simply a term a court uses when a person is released without bail being set. Another term used is “remand.” Remand is an order to keep the defendant incarcerated without bail. This can be disastrous to a defendant who intends to fight the charges but must remain in custody until his case is resolved. Defendants in murder cases are usually remanded due to the seriousness of the charge.
What are Your Rights under Arraignment?
You have the right to counsel during the arraignment process. It is important to be represented by an experienced criminal justice attorney who is competent in the process and understands how to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney for the best outcome.
Should you seek Counsel?
Seeking counsel ensures that your rights will be protected and that you will be given all options with respect to the disposition of your case. The complexities of the legal system demand that you work with an attorney who is both versed and experienced in the laws of the State of New York and the inner workings of the New York City criminal justice system. Criminal defendants would not be able to navigate New York City’s legal system on their own and negotiate a favorable outcome without the assistance of competent legal counsel that can successful and skillfully argue on your behalf.
An attorney can also help you stay on top important dates assigned to your case, schedule continuances or other procedures to give you the time to properly prepare a defense. An experienced criminal justice attorney may also provide you with the motivation to make all of your scheduled dates and avoid a bench warrant from being issued due to a failure to appear order.
No matter the charges, from fourth-degree criminal mischief to domestic violence, nothing is more valuable in the courtroom than having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. Whether your case is in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx, make sure your criminal attorney has the knowledge needed to fight for your innocence by contacting the Law Office of Mahmoud R. Rabah. With years of experience at his backing, Mr. Rabah has developed a unique familiarity with criminal law and the justice system, applying his stellar advocacy skills to help you fight for your freedom. The courtroom isn’t a place to take chances; go with a proven champion in New York criminal defense cases and contact The Law Office of Mahmoud R. Rabah today.