What Happens at an Arraignment?

Christine Blog

While the average American is reasonably familiar with arrest protocol – how police officers do it and the rights of the arrested – for most people what happens next is fuzzier. It’s quite important for the defendant and his loved ones, however, because it will directly impact his life in the upcoming weeks and years.

After the police make an arrest, the defendant is taken to the local police precinct to be booked and processed. This will take a number of hours to accomplish and involves taking photographs and information as well as fingerprinting. The police will search your person and take your personal property for safekeeping. Any illegal items you may have will be confiscated and will not be returned to you later, but may be used as evidence against you in your trial. You will receive a voucher for any legal personal items, and when you are released from jail, they will be returned to you.

At this point, with your identity established, the police begin to investigate to determine what your status is within the system. During this time you will be held in a cell, and if you have any outstanding warrants, ignored summons, or unpaid traffic tickets, your arraignment will be delayed while the courts assemble your paperwork.

Unlike on television or in the movies, the police do not always read defendants their rights. They are required to read these rights only if they question you about a crime – the list they recite is to remind defendants that they are not required to say anything that would implicate themselves, or anything at all. However, the police can and will use anything you say while in police custody that’s overheard by the police or another defendant. So be advised. Loose lips sink ships, and silence is golden.

When all the paperwork has been taken care of, you will be put on a docket of defendants to be arraigned. Some defendants are arraigned in person before a judge, and many, for increased safety, are arraigned by video with the defendants never leaving the jail. Either way, during the arraignment the same things happen. The judge informs the defendant what he is being charged with and what the punishment will be if he is found guilty. Then the judge assigns bail, or denies it, and a date is set for the defendant’s next court appearance, which is the preliminary exam.

After that, if the defendant’s friends or relatives have brought the bail money or have hired a reputable bail bondsman, the proper paperwork must be filled out. When this is done, the defendant will receive his personal belongs and will be able to leave jail and begin to plan for his court date.

While this process is established and has been monitored and altered to maintain defendants’ safety and legal rights, it can be confusing and anxiety provoking for many people. This is why hiring a bail professional can be so useful. We at Michigan Bail Bonds jump through these hoops for our clients every day and know the ins and outs of the system and what must be done to make sure our clients are speedily released. If we can help explain the process to you or bail a friend or loved one out of jail, please call us any time. We would love to help make everything go as smoothly as possible for you.

By: Christine Spoor