At The Rosenblum Allen Law Firm, we get a lot of questions about the Nevada arraignment process. So, we decided to answer the most frequently asked questions about Nevada arraignments here. When a prospective client comes in to meet with us, they are often confused or misinformed about what to expect at their arraignment. It is our opinion that it is important to know what to expect before you appear at your Nevada arraignment.
What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is a brief, initial court appearance after an arrest. It must be held within 48 hours, not including weekends and holidays if you are in police custody. If you are not in police custody, an arraignment can be held weeks or even months after you’ve been released. If a prosecutor wants to have an arraignment hearing, it means that the prosecutor believes there is sufficient evidence to show that you have committed a crime and that a criminal complaint has been filed.
What happens at a Nevada arraignment hearing?
When you appear at the arraignment, you will be in court with a number of other people, many of whom are also being arraigned. Sometimes, the courtroom can appear chaotic with many people moving about. This is not unusual. Do not be intimidated. Be sure to check in with the Court clerk or courtroom Marshal when you arrive. A failure to check in, could mean that the judge will not know you came to the arraignment which could result in a bench warrant being issued for you.
If you have an attorney for your arraignment, chances are your case will be among the first cases called. If you do not hire an attorney for your arraignment, you may end up waiting quite some time, and sometimes even the entire day, to see the judge.
Be sure you dress appropriately for court. Business causal attire is the best bet for appearing in court. This will be the first time the prosecutor and the judge will see you. You want to be sure you give the impression that you know this matter is important and you are taking the allegations against you seriously.
When the judge calls your case, this will be your time to enter a plea of “guilty,” “not guilty” or “no contest.” The arraignment hearing is not the time to try to explain yourself to the judge, argue with the District Attorney or cross-examine witnesses. You should stick to entering your plea and getting your next court date. Do not offer information at your arraignment hearing no matter how tempting it may be.
If you enter a guilty plea, chances are the judge will give you another date to come back for sentencing. If you enter a not guilty plea, you will either get a date for trial, or if you are charged with a felony, you will get a date for your preliminary hearing. Again, remember that the purpose of the arraignment is to enter your plea and get your next court date. That is it.
Can I be arrested at my arraignment hearing?
It is possible that you could be arrested at the arraignment hearing. This can occur for a number of reasons. For example, the prosecutor may believe you are a flight risk and ask to raise your bail. In that case, you will be arrested and held until you can post additional bail. It may also be discovered that you have charges from another court or from another matter. In that case, you should expect to be re-arrested. These are just a few examples of why you might be arrested at your arraignment hearing.
Do I need an attorney at or before my arraignment hearing?
It is always best to have an attorney at your arraignment. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can ask the judge to appoint an attorney for you. It is important to remember that Court appointed attorneys are only given to those who do not qualify for a lawyer based on their finances. If the judge determines that you can afford an attorney, you can ask the judge to continue your hearing so that you have time to find and hire a lawyer.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney should help your case. We have written quite a few articles on hiring criminal defense attorneys and the benefits of having a lawyer on your side if you are charged with a crime. In short, having a lawyer at the arraignment can help with negotiations of your case, will show the judge you are serious about the charges and could end up in your case being dismissed quickly.
A criminal arrest is not something that should be taken lightly. If you or someone you know is facing a criminal arraignment, we can help. Our criminal defense team is led by a former prosecutor who knows the ins and outs of criminal arraignments. Call our office today at (702) 433-2889 to schedule an appointment or fill out our on-line form for more information.