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Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
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Orange County Arraignments

If you were recently arrested for a criminal offense in Orange County, you will have to attend your “arraignment.” What is an arraignment and what is it all about? Assuming you were arrested, the arraignment is simply your first court appearance.

At the arraignment, the judge will inform you of:

  • Your charges
  • Your constitutional rights
  • Your right to a criminal defense attorney

Once the judge has performed the above steps, next you will be asked to respond to your charges by entering a plea. The most commonly used pleas include: not guilty, guilty, and no contest, otherwise known as “nolo contendere.”

When a defendant pleads not guilty, it means he or she is claiming that they did not commit the crime they are being charged with – that they are innocent. Sometimes though, people plead not guilty because it’s a strategic maneuver.

For example, a defendant will plead not guilty because they believe it will help them negotiate a favorable plea bargain, or because they want to go to trial and force the prosecution to prove they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Pleading No Contest and Guilty

When a defendant pleads no contest or nolo contendere, it means the defendant is not disputing their charges. Pleading no contest is basically the same as pleading guilty, but there is one key difference – the defendant’s conviction cannot be used against them if someone files a civil lawsuit.

Pleading guilty means the defendant is admitting that he or she committed a crime. In this scenario, the judge on the case will enter a conviction on the court’s record, and the defendant will be sentenced.

After the Defendant Enters Their Plea

Supposing the defendant is in custody during their arraignment, after he or she enters a plea of not guilty, no contest, or guilty, the judge will: 1) set bail, 2) deny bail, or 3) release the defendant on their “own recognizance,” meaning, the defendant is released but only if they promise to appear in court for their scheduled court date.

If the judge sets bail, the defendant goes back to jail until he or she is able to post it. If the defendant does not post bail, he or she remains in custody and their case proceeds through the courts.

When a judge sets bail, they consider the seriousness of the crime, whether they feel the defendant is dangerous to the community, and whether or not the defendant is considered a “flight risk.”

We hope this information helps. If you need a hard-hitting Orange County criminal defense attorney, contact our firm for a free consultation today!