What happens at the first court appearance?
Whether you are in or out of custody, your first court appearance after being charged with a crime is called the arraignment.
Entering a Not Guilty Plea
Regardless of the content of the discovery, when invited to enter a plea at arraignment your Summit Defense attorney will almost always enter a not guilty plea on your behalf. A not guilty plea is a way of saying "can you prove it?"
What if I've already confessed?
Even if you've confessed to a serious crime, if we can show that the confession was obtained illegally, and the prosecutor does not have other evidence sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then the case should be dropped regardless of how "guilty" you might feel. Summit Defense attorneys believe strongly in the legal presumption of innocence and insure that your legal rights are protected.
In addition to entering a plea, obtaining discovery, and dealing with bail issues if necessary, the arraignment may include discussion regarding court imposed stay away orders. For example, in domestic violence cases it’s not unusual for the court to forbid contact between spouses. Your Summit Defense attorney may be able to prevail upon the court to allow continued contact when appropriate.
Finally, your arraignment is the beginning of a process that could have significant impact on your life in a variety of ways such as freedom, reputation, career etc. It is important that your attorney is present and prepared to deal with the variety of issues that can arise. Before the arraignment is over, additional court dates will be set and issues of time waiver will be addressed.
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