After the arrest, booking, and initial bail phases of the criminal process, the first stage of courtroom-based proceedings takes place -- arraignment. During a typical arraignment, a person charged with a crime is called before a criminal court judge, who:
Also at the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor will give the defendant and his or her attorney copies of police reports and any other documents relevant to the case. For example, in a DUI/DWI or drug possession case, the prosecutor may provide the defense with lab reports of any blood or chemical tests that were performed, and may be used in the case.
The Right to Counsel
If a criminal defendant faces the possibility of jail time if convicted for the crime(s) charged, the defendant has a constitutional right to the assistance of an attorney, or "counsel." If the defendant wishes to be represented by an attorney but cannot afford to hire one, a government-appointed attorney will be assigned at no cost to the defendant. Usually employed as "public defenders", these government-appointed defense attorneys are responsible for zealously protecting a criminal defendant's rights at all stages of the criminal process. To learn more about the right to counsel, go here.
Your Next Steps: Get a Free Case Evaluation
While you're entitled to a court-appointed attorney during a criminal case, you could also benefit from reaching out to seasoned criminal defense attorneys in your community. If anything, they could provide you with a second legal opinion in your case or even supplement your court-appointed attorney. They could also start working for you before a court-appointed attorney is named. Having a strong legal team in place could change the outcome in your case. Get a free case review today.