When officials put you under arrest and take you into custody, you may be anxious to know what to expect going forward. You may want to know what charges you face, what rights you have, and if/when you will be released from jail. Your arraignment, sometimes referred to as a “first appearance,” provides those answers. During this hearing, it is crucial to have an Orange County arraignment lawyer by your side. Our highly-regarded criminal defense attorneys could guide you through this process by answering any questions or concerns you may have. Additionally, we could discuss the options you have and what defense strategy we feel would be most effective.

How Does the Arraignment Process Work in Orange County?

After an arrest has been made, an arraignment is scheduled. The Sixth Amendment gives every individual charged with a crime the right to be informed of the nature and cause of each charge. An arraignment allows arrested individuals to exercise this right as it is typically the first court hearing in a criminal case.

During this hearing, an accused party is formally advised of their rights and the charges filed against then. Then, this person enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If the accused enters a plea of guilty, the judge hands down the sentence, and the case is over. If the accused enters a plea of not guilty or no contest, the judge schedules a date for a pretrial hearing. Lastly, the judge decides if he or she will require the accused to post bail or release them on their own recognizance. A lawyer in Orange County could help someone through the arraignment process and explain the charges filed against them.

Entering a Plea During Arraignment

Once the judge advises the defendant of their rights and charges against them, the judge will ask how they plead to the charges. There are three possible pleas. Depending on the specifics of your case, a local attorney could help someone decide which plea to enter during their arraignment hearing.


If the crime is minor and the defendant pleads guilty, the judge may sentence the defendant at the arraignment. The prosecutor and defense attorney may negotiate until they agree on an appropriate sentence. In more serious cases, the judge will set a date for a pretrial hearing.

Not Guilty

Most commonly, a defendant pleads not guilty to the charges. Most defense attorneys recommend this plea. Pleading not guilty says the defendant and their lawyer will make the prosecutor prove the case against the accused. The prosecutor then must provide the evidence against the defendant and allow the defense attorney to review it. The defense attorney may then conduct their own investigation and provide evidence that supports the innocence of their client.

No Contest

A plea of no contest, or “nolo contendere,” is handled in much the same way as a guilty plea. The term “nolo contendere” means “I do not wish to contest.” In essence, the defendant is acknowledging the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to prove they committed the crime. The defendant is willing to accept the punishment but still chooses not to admit guilt.

Entering a plea is a crucial step in the criminal process and can substantially affect the outcome of your case. You must have skilled legal representation present to explain the plea options and to determine which option would be best for you.

What are My Rights?

During the arraignment, the judge will advise you on the rights given to you by the California Constitution and the United States Constitution. After arrest, your rights include the following:

  • The right to a trial by jury
  • The right to produce and confront witnesses
  • The right to a speedy trial
  • The right to avoid self-incrimination
  • The right to be represented by an attorney. If you are unable to afford one, you will be appointed a public defender.

Having an attorney in Orange County present during your arraignment could ensure that any statements or decisions made are in your best interests. Scott D. Henry and the rest of our team are dedicated and passionate about defending our clients’ rights and dignity. We could skillfully fight to help you retain your freedom.

Does a Defendant Have to Appear in Court for Their Arraignment?

Typically, if you are arrested on a misdemeanor charge, your attorney may appear on your behalf. However, if you have been accused of domestic violence, certain DUI offenses, or a protective order violation, you still may have to appear in court. In felony offense arraignments, you will typically need to appear in court. However, if you provide a written waiver to the judge and they accept it or if the court allows you to appear via video or audio conference, you may not need to appear in court.

Speak with an Orange County Arraignment Attorney

Our skilled attorneys at the Law Office of Scott D. Henry have unsurpassed success in representing our clients in criminal cases of every type and severity. We are proactive and aggressive in our approach to every case. Our Orange County arraignment lawyers tirelessly fight for a successful resolution for you and your family. If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in the area, you need an experienced and dedicated lawyer to represent you. Call our office today for a free consultation.

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