What Will my First Court Appearance Be Like?

The Arraignment

I am often asked this question.  The day or night that you are arrested you will be given some paperwork by the police.  These tickets will have the date and time you are to appear in court.  The first court appearance that you will have will be called an "arraignment".  At the arraignment we will formally enter our plea.  If you are charged with a misdemeanor the permissible pleas you can enter are either, guilty or not guilty.  Unless there are very compelling reasons to do so I would advise to enter a not guilty at your arraignment.  If you plead guilty at this stage of the process sentencing is completely up to the Judge.  Although it would be unlikely the Judge could sentence you to anything legally permissible which could be jail or probation!

After we enter our not guilty plea the question of your driver's license will usually come up.  If you took the breath test back at the station you may be eligible for a "hardship license".  If you refused the breath test back at the station then you will not receive a temporary license.  The Judge will take your license and you would not have driving privileges until the case is resolved.  Again if you took the breath test we would make an application to get a "hardship privilege".  The Judge would still take your actual license but it would be replace, if granted, by the "hardship license".

The last question that would get answered at the arraignment is your custody status.  The Judge may consider setting some type of "bail" on you to ensure that you will come back to court.  The Judge takes into consideration things such as, your prior criminal history, history of warrants and whether or not you live locally.  The Judge will also consider if you are working  and if you have any connections to the community.

It is a good idea to hire an attorney who can guide you through this part of the process.  In my next blog entry I will be discussing the "hardship license".

This entry was authored by Thomas D. Jackson Jr, Esq., a partner at the law firm of Jackson Bergman, LLP, 477 State Street, Binghamton, New York.  Jackson Bergman, LLP, represents people who are charged with Driving While Intoxicated.  Jackson Bergman, LLP, is an experienced, aggressive and talented group of lawyers, has represented people in the following counties in the State of New York:  Broome; Chenango; Cortland; Chemung; Delaware; Tioga; and Tompkins.  The law firm of Jackson Bergman, LLP, provides free face-to-face initial consultations.