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What Happens at A Preliminary Arraignment?

Luff Strenfel LLP Aug. 17, 2018

When someone is arrested and charged with a crime they have to be preliminarily arraigned. There are three main reasons for someone to be arraigned. The first reason is to inform you of what charges the state is bringing against you. A magisterial judge will read to you the charges that are being brought against you and in some circumstances they may even provide you with a brief description of what that crime means if you are unfamiliar. The second reason for a preliminary arraignment is for the court to make sure that they have all of your most recent information. Once the state brings charges against you, they want to ensure that they know exactly who you are and where you will be at all times. If the court needs to inform you of any new information about your case, they need to be sure that they can reach you. The only way that they can ensure reaching you at all times is to have your most recent and up to date information. The judge will ask you some questions that may seem very personal in front of the courtroom such as: where do you work? What is your income? Do you have any children? (Just to name a few). Once the judge has finished with those questions they will then move on to the third reason for a preliminary arraignment, setting your bail.

This for many people is the most important part of the preliminary arraignment. The judge will look at your criminal history or background, what charges you have been charged with, if you have an attorney with you. How you have behaved while in front of them during this procedure, and they will set a bail for your case. When bail is set there are a few different variations of how it may be set. The judge can give you non monetary bail or unsecured bail. This means that you do not have to pay any money in order for you to get out of the courtroom. However, if you ever miss court and the judge has set a non monetary bail on you, then you may have to pay money to get out of jail. If the judge sets monetary bail (example- 10,000 dollars secured bail) then you will be held in custody until you put up 10,000. In some counties 10 percent of what is asked, which in this example would be 1000 dollars. If you cannot afford your bail you will be held in custody until your case ends. Most people seek out a bail bondsman who will post the bail for you as long as you pay their designated fee. While all of this is very informal, the preliminary hearing is the first step of your criminal case and as always you should have legal representation there to help navigate you through the process. If you have been arrested and about to go through a preliminary hearing, you should contact LHS Law Firm and let us speak to you about what we can do to ensure that your rights are protected during your hearing.