WHAT IS ARRAIGNMENT?
“What is arraignment?”
That’s the first question every client asks us when they receive their first court date, and it’s a great one. Most of our clients have either received a court date prior to meeting with us or they were told when they leave the jail that they will receive an arraignment date in the near future. So, what is arraignment?
In Georgia, every person is entitled to due process of law under the Georgia Constitution and the United States Constitution. A citizen’s due process rights include the right to be placed on notice of any charges the State intends to seek. The State files charges through either a formal indictment or accusation. These documents are ultimately the framework of how the case will proceed. As such, arraignment is the first opportunity for the court to inform the accused of the charges against them. Under Georgia law, every person accused of a crime has the right to be arraigned. Formal arraignment is when the court reads the charges in open court and an accused has an opportunity to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty.
So what actually happens in court at the arraignment hearing? From a practical stand-point three things happen at arraignment. First, one of our lawyers will likely inform the court that we are waiving formal arraignment (reading of the charges in open court) because we have received the actual charging document and we would prefer, for the sake of privacy, for our clients charges not to be read in front of hundreds of people. Second, we enter a plea of not guilty. At this juncture the State has not provided the evidence they intend to use at trial and we would essentially be accepting guilt without evaluating the case. Thus, it makes sense to plead not guilty, collect evidence, and then proceed accordingly. Finally, we inform the court that we will be filing legal motions and ask the court for ten-days to file. Legal motions cover many issues including asking the Judge to force the State to provide evidence, suppress evidence, hold a hearing on legal issues, and many other topics.
If you have been charged with a crime then your case will eventually be set for an arraignment hearing. Please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation at either our downtown location or our Marietta location to discuss arraignment and how we can help with your case.