Criminal Arraignment in Pennsylvania
If you are facing an arraignment in Pennsylvania, you are probably nervous and unsure of what it means for your future.
The arraignment is part of a the court procedures following your arrest. Your arraignment, and other procedures leading up to your trial, are often just as important as the trial itself.
Having an experienced criminal attorney by your side from the beginning, who understands the legal system in Pennsylvania, can help ensure the court follows proper procedures and that you are treated fairly. Failure of the court to follow procedure could lead to your charges being dismissed.
Facing criminal charges is very stressful. Make sure you understand your rights and speak with an attorney about your case.
Contact Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer Justin Ketchel for a free case evaluation.
TWO TYPES OF ARRAIGNMENT
In Pennsylvania, there are two types:
- Preliminary Arraignment
- Formal Arraignment
After you are arrested for a crime, the order of events is as follows:
- You will be booked by police, including mug shot and fingerprints.
- You will be placed in a holding cell in the jail where you were arrested.
- You will have a preliminary arraignment. This must occur within 72 hours of your arrest or you must be released.
- The charges against you will be explained and you will be notified of your rights. At this time, you will receive a copy of the complaint against you. If you have been arrested with a warrant, the court will also provide you a copy of the warrant and any supporting documents.
- Most importantly, you will be given a date to return for your Preliminary Hearing.
- You will either be released on bail or held in jail depending on the circumstances of your crime.
- You will return to court for your Preliminary Hearing.
- The court will hold a formal arraignment.
A preliminary arraignment occurs soon after your arrest for a crime. It is your first court appearance in the case against you, where you will appear in front of a court magistrate in the District Court where you were arrested.
In Pennsylvania, a preliminary arraignment must occur within 72 hours of your arrest.
The preliminary arraignment can be held in person, or via a two-way audio/video conference. During this time, you will be notified of the crime you are charged with, as well as your rights. This includes the right to legal counsel.
After the notifications, you will be given a copy of the complaint against you as well as a copy of the warrant if there was one. The court will then determine bail, if any, and give you the date of your preliminary hearing.
The preliminary arraignment is often considered the most important part of any criminal case. At this point you will hear the evidence against you for the first time. A judge will determine whether or not the prosecution has enough evidence to proceed with their case against you.
Having an experienced criminal attorney at this stage is very important. This is their opportunity to get evidence and testimony thrown out, or possibly have your charges dropped entirely.
If the court determines that there is enough evidence to proceed against you at your preliminary arraignment, you will then have a formal arraignment. This arraignment will take place in the Court of Common Pleas.
At the formal arraignment, the charges against you will be read aloud in court. After you have heard the charges against you, you will be asked to enter your plea.
At the formal arraignment you have three options:
- Not Guilty
- No Contest
Your plea at the arraignment determines how the court proceeds:
- If you plead guilty, your punishment will be determined and you will receive your sentencing.
- A not guilty plea will lead to a full trial. The judge will give further instructions and proceed with pre-trial motions. Pre-trial motions must be filed within 30 days of your formal arraignment.
- A plea of no contest is still a conviction. However, you are not admitted or denying any of the allegations against you. You will however, still be subject to punishment by the court.
It is important to note that should you choose to remain silent during the formal arraignment, your silence is taken as a guilty plea.
If you have been charged with a crime, or think you may be charged soon, call Justin Ketchel today for a free legal consultation at 412-456-1221.
A Criminal Lawyer Who Will Defend Your Rights
No matter what the charges are against you, consult a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. The sooner you seek counsel, the more help they will be able to provide.
At Ketchel Law, our number one goal is to have your case dismissed.
A conversation with an experienced criminal attorney will help you better understand all the possible defenses to your charges and how best to proceed in your case.
If the evidence cannot be suppressed or if the charges cannot be dismissed, there are still several options for a reduction of sentencing.
Learn More about Defending Your Rights in Pennsylvania:
- Bail and Bond Hearings
- Nebbia Orders
- Preliminary Hearing
- Criminal Appeals
- Expungement / Record Sealing
- Self Defense Laws in PA
- Criminal Trial and Appeals Process
FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION
We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.
Learn more about Ketchel Law:
- Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyers
- Pittsburgh DUI Lawyers
- Read Reviews Our Clients Have Written
- View Our Case History / Results
- Our PA Legal Blog