Should You Be Represented by an Attorney at the Arraignment?
Interviewer: If an individual is accompanied by his attorney to the arraignment, is the outcome more favorable? Such as being released without bail or having a low bail set? Or does it not matter?
Most Judges Prefer that an Attorney Is Retained for the Arraignment
Stuart Austin: It does matter, because in essence it shows a few different things to the judges. I’ve heard judges say, “I see you’re taking this case seriously because you brought an attorney with you.” I can’t say whether that’s true or not, but that is one aspect that the judges look at.
It Is Helpful If Your Attorney Is Acquainted with the Judges and Is Familiar with Their Likes and Dislikes
The second thing is that you have to know what the judges want. A number of times, if you’re lucky, there are different judges who like specific actions. So if you know you’re in front of a judge who gives consideration to a defendant who is gainfully employed that is something you would stress. This judge wants to see individuals working and to be earning a living and supporting themselves because they don’t want to be on government assistance.
That’s the kind of character value that you have to discuss with a client and that is what you highlight and stress, repeatedly if necessary, when you’re making an application to the judge to release him.
Can You Be Arrested at Your Arraignment?
Interviewer: If you’re not arrested for something but you’re given a summons and you go to court for the arraignment, is it possible that you could then be taken into custody and arrested?
The Police May Uncover Information That Would Warrant Your Arrest
Stuart Austin: Yes. In essence what would happen is that first step is the police department saying, “Based on what we know about you, we don’t believe that we need to step down on you. We believe that you’ll come back.” Now, that original information could be wrong or that information could later be supplemented by new evidence.
The Police May Later Discover You Have Numerous Prior Charges
For example, sometimes the police department may not have your fingerprint evidence back prior to a setting of bail. They set bail on you assuming that you’re clean and everything’s fine, and so they don’t have anything else.
Then when the fingerprints come back it turns out that you have five or six priors for the same charge. Most definitely, the judge is going to say, “I’m not going to release this person on his own recognizance. He has committed this crime six times and the police didn’t know about it.”
A Victim May Come Forth at the Arraignment
Another example, let’s say, is a case where you yelled and screamed at somebody and made threatening phone calls. It could be that that person is in court now and has relayed to the judge that they’re terrified of you, and that they are scared for their safety.
This is information the police didn’t have when they arrested you; you might have been unavailable at the time. Maybe the person got anxious and angrier as time has gone by. There are certain factors that they’re going to be aware of and that’s, in essence, why it’s good to have the attorney there, to look at those factors.