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Arraignment is typically the first court appearance that an individual accused of a California marijuana-related offense attends. It is a crucial part of the criminal court process and is the defendant’s first opportunity to enter into plea negotiations with the prosecution. In order to receive the most favorable outcome at this stage in the proceedings, it is imperative that the accused appears with a California criminal defense lawyer who specializes in defending marijuana offenses.

Arraignment follows the arrest, booking and initial bail phases of one’s criminal case and is typically held within two business days of the arrest. During the arraignment, a judge tells the accused (now called the “defendant”) exactly what criminal charges have been filed against him or her and what the penalties are that are associated with those crimes. A list of constitutional rights will also be read to the accused. The judge inquires as to whether the defendant has hired a private lawyer or wishes to use the services of a court-appointed attorney (also known as a public defender) and asks the defendant if he or she is prepared to enter a plea of guilty, no contest or not guilty. It should be noted that a “no contest” or “nolo contendere” plea means that the charges will not be contested (like a guilty plea) but makes it so that the plea cannot be used against the accused in the event that a civil case ensures. If the defendant has not yet obtained counsel, the judge may grant him or her a continuance to do so. If the defendant’s bail was not decided in a previous proceeding (which would likely be the case with a marijuana-related charge), the judge will decide whether or not to modify the bail amount or whether or not to release the accused on his or her own recognizance (otherwise known as an OR release).

Before the arraignment concludes, the judge will instruct the defendant to appear at all remaining court dates (which may include a preliminary hearing, a date for any pre-trial motions and the trial date) and will give the defendant the dates for those proceedings. Misdemeanor charges that aren’t resolved at the arraignment will typically proceed to a date where the pre-trial motions will be held and felony charges that are unresolved will proceed directly to a preliminary hearing.

Discovery may be provided to the defense at the arraignment. This typically includes copies of any police reports or other documents that are relevant to the defendant’s case, a list of witness names, any statements made by the defendant or any written or recorded statements that were made by other witnesses, descriptions of any seized evidence and any evidence that points to the defendant’s innocence.

Arraignments can be overwhelming and quite stressful for anyone accused of a criminal charge, especially if the charge is a felony or an individual’s first offense. The compassionate and trusted criminal attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm are dedicated to making this difficult time easier for their clients. They have the skill, experience and integrity necessary to competently and successfully guide their clients through the arraignment and all other phases of the criminal court process. Because they have law offices located throughout California, including several in and around the Los Angeles area, they have established relationships with local judges and prosecutors, giving their clients a tremendous advantage when it comes time to negotiate a plea bargain or ask for special consideration on a particular case. For unsurpassed legal advice and representation from a firm who has mastered the defenses that are applicable to California marijuana-related offenses, contact The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation.