What Happens at an Arraignment in Illinois?

 Posted on September 21, 2015 in Criminal Defense

arraignment, criminal defense, Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyAfter you are arrested in Illinois, one of the first times you appear in court will be for an arraignment. This is a special type of procedural hearing that only occurs in criminal cases. Several things happen at an arraignment that will have a major impact on how the rest of your case proceeds. It is important that you understand your rights and that you talk with your lawyer prior to your arraignment.

Hearing the Charges

The two main purposes of the arraignment are to read the defendant the charges against him or her and to hear the defendant’s plea. You have a right to have a lawyer present at the arraignment. If you do not have a lawyer, you should still attend the hearing because failure to appear in court is a separate crime and a very serious matter. The judge will issue an arrest warrant and possibly revoke your bail if you fail to make your court date.

If you do not have a lawyer, you can ask for more time to find a lawyer to represent you.

An arraignment is a public hearing and, usually, a judge will handle many arraignments, one right after the other. Many lawyers and defendants will waive the formal reading of charges. This means that the lawyer gives the court permission to skip the public reading of the charges, which, to a limited extent, can help protect your privacy. You or your attorney will still receive the written charges.

Entering a Plea

After the charges are read or the reading is waived, you will enter a plea. If you plead not-guilty your case will proceed towards trial. In some cases, prosecution will make a plea offer that is only valid if you do accept it at the arraignment and plead guilty. As with most aspects of your case, your attorney can help you decide upon the best course of action as it relates to pleas and plea agreements.

If you plead guilty you may be sentenced right away, or a sentencing hearing may be scheduled for another time. Once you have pleaded guilty, you may be taken directly into custody, depending on the circumstances.

What Happens Next?

After the arraignment you will meet with your lawyer to either discuss the plan for the sentencing hearing or to continue planning for your trial. Often, you can later change your mind and enter a guilty plea. But, once you have pleaded guilty, you cannot, in the vast majority of situations, change your mind. Withdrawing a guilty plea is only for the most extreme circumstances.

The arraignment is usually short, often lasting only a few minutes. The entire process, though, can be confusing if you are not properly prepared.

If you have been charged with a crime, you should talk to a skilled and experienced Cook County criminal defense attorney before you talk to anyone else. Your freedom is too important to entrust to just anyone, and at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, we will protect your rights at every turn. Call 312-629-0669 to schedule your free consultation today.  

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