Arraignment is the first step in the process of facing criminal charges in New York City – the moment when a criminal case begins in court. It can be an overwhelming situation.
An arraignment lawyer stands beside you when you:
Arraignment is the name of the proceeding that begins every criminal case, when the Court first exercises jurisdiction over you.
If you go through a full-blown arrest, you'll remain in continuous custody until you're arraigned. If you receive a summons or a desk appearance ticket (DAT), you'll be arraigned days, weeks, or even months after arrest.
You'll plead NOT guilty at your arraignment. Even if you're guilty as charged, you'll plead not guilty.
At arraignment, you'll first learn:
In New York City, arraignment following a full-blown arrest typically happens 16 to 24 hours after the moment of arrest. By the time you're arraigned, you'll have spent most of the past day in police custody. You'll probably be tired, and uncomfortable, and frightened.
At arraignment, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer. If you can't afford a lawyer, the Court will appoint a lawyer to represent you. You won't represent yourself.
If you can afford a lawyer, but you haven't yet had the opportunity to hire one for arraignment, which is common, the Court will appoint a lawyer to represent you. However, you'll have to hire a lawyer before the next court date.
Bail is a sum of money, or other valuable property, that a family member or friend must deposit with the court to secure your freedom.
An arraignment judge has three bail options:
When determining bail, the judge will assess the extent to which you pose a "risk of flight" – the likelihood that you won't return to court on future court dates. Factors that the judge will consider when setting bail include:
The more you pose a risk of flight, the more likely that the judge will set bail. If the judge sets bail, higher risk of flight will result in higher bail.
If the judge sets bail, then someone must put up money or a bail bond before you'll be released. Bail can range from $1 to millions of dollars.
Ideally, someone will in the courtroom on your behalf at your arraignment, with cash on hand to post your bail if needed.
Once you post bail, you’ll remain free until the case is over, unless you violate the conditions of your release, or unless the Court increases your bail for some other reason.
When your case is over, the person who posted bail will receive their money back, unless the bail is forfeited due to failure to attend court when required.
While you wait to be arraigned, a police officer or a detective might try to speak with you about the alleged crime, or about a different crime than the one for which you were arrested.
Exercise your constitutional right to remain silent and your right to have a lawyer present during questioning. Never speak with police, and never speak with a prosecutor. Talking to anyone in law enforcement will only hurt you, by helping the people trying to convict you.
While you're in custody, if you're given the opportunity to speak with a family member or a friend – in person or over the phone – don't discuss anything the facts of your case:
Police will be listening to your end of the conversation, noting anything you say that might help them build their case against you.
The only thing you can safely say is that you've been arrested and that you want a lawyer.
If you’ve been arrested and are waiting for arraignment, call me immediately – I'm available 24/7/365. After you hire me as your lawyer, I'll do several things on your behalf:
Arraignment lawyer Bruce Yerman has over 25 years of experience defending clients charged with crimes in New York City.
For a free consultation about a New York City arraignment, call 212-390-0036, or complete this short form: