Many who’ve been arrested and remain in police custody are concerned about when they’ll go before a judge. Whether you’re concerned about what charges you’ll face in St. Petersburg or whether you’ll be able to get out of custody, you will likely find the answers to your questions at the arraignment, which is sometimes known as a first or initial appearance in other states. Generally, law enforcement is not allowed to keep you incarcerated indefinitely without some participation by the court. It’s important to retain a skillful St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney once you’ve been booked or even while you’re being investigated for a crime, if you’re aware of the investigation. At Hanlon Law, we work hard to defend our clients’ rights even before arraignment.What is an Arraignment?
In St. Petersburg, the arraignment is a court hearing where formal charges brought by the prosecutor against you are read aloud. You’ll be required to give a formal response to the charges, which is why it is so crucial to retain a skillful criminal defense attorney before the arraignment. The formal response can be not guilty, guilty or no contest. When you’re represented by an attorney at your arraignment, he or she may have already negotiated a plea agreement with the prosecutor.
The plea agreement may require you to plead a particular way — usually no contest or guilty — in exchange for a lighter sentence. The judge will ask for your plea. If you plead not guilty you are denying that you committed the crimes the prosecutor alleges. It also means you’ll be proceeding to trial, and you can ask for a trial by jury or a bench trial. Often plea negotiations result in a defendant electing to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a lighter sentence than what would have been received if another serious charge were pursued.
No contest pleas are also known as nolo contendere pleas. A no contest plea is one in which you don’t admit or deny that you committed the crime alleged by the prosecutor. Often defendants plead this way because their attorney reached a plea agreement with the prosecutor requiring them to do so in exchange for some benefit, such as reduced charges or a lighter sentence.
When a defendant pleads not guilty at a St. Petersburg arraignment, he is denying that he committed the crime. Sometimes he will need to stay in police custody after the arraignment. However, there is also an opportunity at the arraignment for a skillful criminal defense attorney to persuade the court that a client should be released on his own recognizance or that the bail amount should be set a reasonable level. Sometimes prosecutors do not oppose a reasonable bail. The judge has the authority to determine whether bail should be set and for how much. If bail is denied, you can be remanded to police custody after the arraignment, and may need to wait there until trial.
At the arraignment, other matters may also arise and be resolved. The court may establish the conditions for your release pending the trial and resolution. For example, the court may ban you from contacting a victim of domestic violence or you may be forbidden from traveling.Consult a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in St. Petersburg
Prosecutors can choose whether or not to charge you with a crime, and what crime to charge you with. Even so, an experienced defense lawyer who has a strong reputation may be able to influence whether a prosecutor pursues charges and what charges are pursued. At Hanlon Law, we negotiate plea deals with the prosecutor prior to arraignment when possible. How you plead at the arraignment may be the result of plea negotiations, and in many cases, a good plea deal is only reached with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you are facing a St. Petersburg arraignment, you can consult Hanlon Law. Our principal attorney has defended those in the criminal justice system since 1994. Please contact us at (813) 228-7095 or via our online form.