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What Is the Difference Between an Arraignment and a Trial?

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If you or your loved one has been arrested and accused for a crime, it can be a very terrifying and fast-moving process initially. Your mind might be buzzing with questions regarding what happens after an arrest, what you were accused of, what evidence has been brought forward, whether or not you had an alibi, whether there were witnesses, how long you have until your trial date, and more. One of the first things that happens after you are arrested is an arraignment. Depending on what you plead (ie. guilty or not guilty), you may then need to appear in court for your trial. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between an arraignment and a trial and how you can get help from a bail bondsman.

What Is an Arraignment?

An arraignment is a criminal pre-trial proceeding, that is sometimes called an initial appearance. Upon this meeting the person accused of a crime is brought before a judge in court. In most misdemeanor cases, the defendant does not need to appear; the person’s counsel can appear in their place. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

At the arraignment, the defendant is informed of the charges against them and the potential criminal sentence for conviction. The defendant may be told about their rights, including the right to a trial and an attorney or public defender.

After this, the defendant is asked to state whether they are guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If they plead not guilty, a trial date is established, and the judge may set the bail amount or allow for the defendant to be released on their own recognizance. The judge will also state the conditions of the bail agreement and may set dates for future proceedings.

If the defendant pleads guilty, the judge may state a date for sentencing. In the case of a no contest plea, the defendant does not admit guilt, even though they are essentially pleading guilty.

An arraignment can be a hectic time. The court’s goal is to get through as many cases as possible, quickly moving on from one to the next. The courtroom will likely be a busy time for prosecutors, defense attorneys (DA), and defendants to gain an understanding of the cases.

What Is the Preliminary Hearing (Trial)?

A preliminary hearing or trial comes after the arraignment if the defendant pleads not guilty. At this meeting, the prosecutor must prove that there is sufficient evidence or probable cause that the defendant committed the crime at hand. This process is similar to a grand jury hearing, where the prosecution offers evidence and testimony. If there is no probable cause, the just can dismiss the case. If there is probable cause, the defendant must attend a trial in court.

A preliminary hearing is required in every felony case. There is usually a live witness testimony and attorneys will cross examine the witnesses to see how credible they are. The defendant can present their own witnesses as well, to establish their alibi and strengthen their defense.

Reasons Why the State Might Hold an Arraignment

1. The state might hold an arraignment to ensure that the defendant understands the charges against them and what the consequences would be if they were found responsible. The arraignment would also ensure that the defendant understands their rights to an attorney, to gather witnesses and other evidence, or plead guilty.
2. The arraignment is also useful to ensure all defendants choose an attorney and prepare their statements and rebuttals before trail. It also gives them the right to find out what information the prosecution has, and get advice from their attorney as to how to move forward.
3. The prosecution can decide whether they will try the defendant’s case or not during the arraignment. This meeting is useful to allow the defendant to either plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest. However the defendant chooses to respond will affect whether or not they receive a trial date, get bail, or go straight to dealing with the consequences of their crime.
4. The defendant gets ten days after the arraignment to file motions unless the judge permits more time. This extension of time is useful for the defendant to review and comment on the police report, complaints, and other materials brought forward by the DA, City Attorney, or City Prosecutor.

Let PCS Bail Bonds Help You

The whole process of what happens after getting arrested can seem complicated and confusing, especially if this is the first time it’s happened to you. It is not a process that should be taken lightly, and you can use all the help available to you. If you require the services of a bail bondsman to help you understand the circumstances of your case, we can help.

PCS Bail Bonds provides 24-hour bail bonds for all kinds of charges including theft, drug possession, embezzlement, assault, and more. Our experienced agents can help you obtain a bond in a fraction of the time it takes with other agencies.

We have professional memberships in several renowned associations including the Professional Bondsmen of Texas, Tarrant County Bar Association, and Professional Bondsmen of Tarrant County. We serve clients in Fort Worth, Texas and other municipalities in Tarrant County. We process our clients’ requests quickly and efficiently. Our bond agents are always on call and we can be down to the jail in under 30 minutes.

Contact us now by phone at 817-335-1655, at our e-mail, visit in-person, or fill out our bail bond request form. You can be confident that you’re working with experts who are dedicated to helping you.

Author: Paul Schuder

Paul Schuder is the owner of PCS Bail Bonds and Profession Court Services (PCS). He is a lifelong resident of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Paul has over twenty years of courthouse experience, and has been in businesses involving the criminal justice system for his entire career. Paul has helped thousands of clients with their pursuit of justice and fair play. Mr. Schuder maintains high levels of respect with all the court house personnel, especially judges and attorneys. Using a close hands-on personal approach and a keen understanding of all cultures, helps people when they need it most. Add me to your G+

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