A defendant’s first appearance in court is called an arraignment. An arraignment is required for all felony cases or misdemeanor cases punishable by imprisonment in Texas. During an arraignment, the defendant is informed of their charges and has the opportunity to enter a plea.
It’s worth noting, an arraignment is not the first step in a criminal trial. An arraignment may be waived if the defense takes the appropriate actions. Many attend arraignment to contest for bail to be lowered. If your or someone you know has a pending court date for an arraignment, it’s vital that you seek a criminal defense attorney.
Harris County Attorney for Arraignments in Texas
Have you received notice for an arraignment regarding criminal charges? Unsure on what your next move should be? Stay ahead of the prosecution, and start your line of defense with Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm.
Attorney Brian Benken is an accomplished attorney who understands the complexities of Texas criminal law. He has attended various arraignments and has over 30 years of experience defending clients in Texas. Do not be hesitant with your freedom, side yourself with an attorney who is knowledgeable with Brian Benken.
Brian Benken accepts clients throughout every piece of Harris Conty and surrounding communities including Houston Heights, Midtown, Greenspoint, and Meyerland.
Call us now at (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a free consultation with Brian Benken now.
Overview for Arraignments in Texas
- What is the Purpose of Arraignment?
- Types of Pleas in Criminal Court
- Benefits of a Defense Attorney
- Additional Resources
What is the Purpose of an Arraignment?
The purpose of an arraignment is to introduce the defendant and inform him or her of their legal rights. Additionally, a defendant has an opportunity to enter a plea during an arraignment. Not every trial has an arraignment. Most misdemeanors don’t require an arraignment, however those with prison time as a possible punishment do.
The following are the matters discussed during an arraignment hearing:
- The defendant is identified and named for the criminal charges;
- The defendant is informed of his or her current criminal charges;
- The judge informs the defendant of possible legal penalties for conviction of the defendant’s crimes.
- The court asks if the defendant has private legal counsel, or would like a court-appointed lawyer;
- The defendant may enter their initial plea;
- The judge establishes bail and the amount needed to be paid;
- The judge informs the court of the scheduled dates for pretrial motions and any upcoming hearings.
Pleas at a Arraignment Hearing in Harris County
During an arraignment, the defendant has an opportunity to enter a plea. There are three different pleas a person can enter which includes:
- Not Guilty – If the alleged offender does not accept the criminal charges filed against him or her. If the defendant refuses to answer, then the plea of not guilty will be entered for them. A person can change their plea from not guilty to guilty at any part of the trial.
- Guilty – If the alleged offender accepts the criminal charges filed against him or her. It is best to consult with an attorney before entering a plea of guilty. A skilled attorney may evaluate the elements and possible legal options of your charges and assess if a guilty plea is best for you. A guilty plea is final and cannot be changed at any point of the proceedings.
- No Contest (Nolo Contendere) – The term nolo contendere means “I do not wish to attend” in Latin. If a person pleads no contest, he or she is stating that they do not accept the criminal charges. However, they do not deny them either. A nolo contendere plea is essentially the same as a guilty plea.
Benefits of Having an Texas Attorney During Arraignment
If you have been criminally charged, it’s important to have an attorney on your side as soon as possible. This includes during the arraignment phase. The following are some benefits of hiring an attorney early in the criminal process.
- Help with Bond Amount – This may be the most important reason why you should retain legal representation early. An experienced attorney can advocate for your bail to be reduced during an arraignment hearing. This can significantly help you with the legal costs of a trial.
- Review the Prosecutor’s Case – It is important that a defense attorney has the ability to look at the prosecutor’s arguments before the trial begins. A attorney can assess the prosecutor’s case and address any weaknesses with you when creating a sturdy defense.
- Plea Bargaining – In many cases, a prosecutor may create a plea bargain for reduced charges and penalties. This is only available if the defendant pleas guilty as a result. A defense attorney can communicate with the prosecuting attorney to help you obtain the best possible plea bargain for your charges.
- Waive Arraignment – A skilled attorney can waive your arraignment if the court allows. This may help you with traveling, time away from your profession, or give you a chance to plan for your first appearance in court.
Texas Arraignment Process – Visit the official website for the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Here, you can find more information surrounding arraignments, waiving arraignment, and how the court picks a court-appointed lawyer.
Texas Criminal Process Handbook – Visit a citizen’s guide to the Texas criminal justice process provided by the State Bar of Texas, Criminal Justice Section. Find more information surrounding the criminal trial process, arraignments, appeals, parole, and how juveniles are treated in court.
Houston Lawyer for Arraignment in Texas
If you or someone you know is awaiting an arraignment hearing because of criminal charges, it’s highly advised that you seek a criminal defense attorney. Attorney Brian Benken is skilled criminal defense attorney in the Harris County area
Brian Benken is passionate about criminal defense. With over 30 years of experience, Brian Benken is knowledgeable about the Texas court system. He will use his extensive experience and resources to formulate a strong defense for you. Stay ahead and start your defense today with Brian Benken.
The Benken Law Firm practices throughout all parts of Harris County and surrounding communities including Houston neighborhoods including Greenspoint, River Oaks, Memorial, Meyerland, and Midtown.
Call us now at (713) 223 - 4051 for a free consultation.
This article was last updated on October 12, 2018.