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The arraignment is usually the first day in court. That is when a defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. Also, the judge will decide whether to let the defendant remain free (while the case is open) or to set a bail amount, and if the judge wants to set an amount for bail, the defendant will have to pay bail in order to be free while fighting the case. The arraignment is usually when the prosecutor gives the defendant’s lawyer the initial evidence in the case. Sometimes, the judge or prosecutor will offer a plea deal at the arraignment. This is more common with minor crimes.

Entering a Plea of Guilty or Not Guilty

This is when a person enters a plea and tells the court whether he/she committed the crime. Usually, defendants tell the court they are “not guilty,” and the process of fighting the case begins.

Taking a Plea Deal

Although it is not common, sometimes the prosecutor or judge offers a plea deal to the defendant at the arraignment. If there is a very good deal that is being offered by the prosecutor or the judge, then a defendant may enter a guilty or no-contest plea to take advantage of the deal. Sometimes, the deal is only good for that day. This is why it is important to have an attorney represent you in court. You want to make the right decision as to whether or not you want to fight the case or take a plea deal.

Bail Amount

The judge looks at several factors when determining whether somebody should be free while fighting their case:

  1. Whether the defendant is a danger to society if he or she is to remain free while fighting the case.
  2. Whether the defendant will flee and not show up to court.

For the first factor, the judge will look at several things:

  • the defendant’s criminal history
  • the alleged facts of the case
  • the seriousness of the accusations
  • how strong the initial evidence is against the defendant
  • how dangerous the defendant is to the alleged victim.

For the second factor, the judge will look at

  • whether the defendant has a history of not showing up to court
  • the defendant’s connections in the community (the assumption is that if you have family in the area, then you’re less likely to flee)
  • the defendant’s employment within the community (if you have a job in the vicinity, it’s assumed that you’re less likely to go on the run)


The arraignment is also when the prosecutor gives the defendant’s lawyer the initial “discovery.” Discovery is another word for evidence in the case. At this stage, the defendant’s lawyer will most likely request additional evidence, such as body worn video, surveillance footage, interview clips, etc.

Every case is different so it is important that you speak to a criminal defense lawyer. The earlier you get representation, the better. We have represented clients in LA County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and all over southern California, in both state AND federal court. Call us today at 213-235-7969 so that we can aggressively fight your case.

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