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What to expect at the initial hearing if facing a criminal charge

| Oct 1, 2020 | Criminal Defense

If a person is facing a criminal charge related to violent crime, there is an initial hearing held shortly after the arrest. There are various purposes for this hearing, which is also known as an arraignment. 

Knowing what to expect during this process helps the defendant prepare for what is going to happen. 

How to prepare for the hearing

According to the Offices of the United States Attorneys, United States Department of Justice, the arraignment occurs the day of, or the day after, the arrest and charging of the crime. For the best preparation, the person facing the charges should seek out an attorney right away. 

One of the purposes of the initial hearing is to hear the pleading to the charge. Speaking to an attorney first helps the defendant make a better decision in terms of pleading guilty or not. During the hearing, the judge reviews the charges and informs the person of interest of his or her rights. If the defendant does not already have an attorney, the judge will assign one at this time. 

How a judge determines bail

During this time, the judge also determines to release or hold the defendant until it is time for the trial. According to the American Bar Association, if the judge decides to release the defendant, bail must be set and paid first. The factors the judge considers before granting bail include: 

  • The severity of the alleged crime 
  • The ties the defendant has in the area, resulting in a low or high risk of fleeing 
  • The threat to the community 
  • The chances of the defendant committing a crime while out on bail 

If the judge grants bail, the defendant may use a bail bondsperson instead of coming up with the money him- or herself.