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One of the most common questions we get asked is: “Do I have to show up at my arraignment?” Most people who are arrested will get a notice of arraignment in the mail about 2 or 3 weeks after your arrest. Under Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant who is represented by counsel does not have to appear at their arraignment. The rules governing arraignments in the State of Florida are covered by Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.160.
What is an Arraignment?
Arraignments are conducted in open court. It is when the prosecuting attorney informs the defendant what the charges against them are, and to determine the plea to those charges (“guilty” or “not guilty”). Also, it is determined whether or not a defendant has obtained counsel and/or can afford counsel. Assuming a defendant has obtained counsel prior to arraignment and counsel files a written plea of not guilty prior to the arraignment, the arraignment shall be deemed waived and neither retained counsel nor the defendant need to appear.
If you are a defendant who has not retained counsel prior to your arraignment, you must appear on the date and the place specified on your notice. At that time, the court will advise you of the charges against you and inquire as to your financial ability to obtain counsel. If you are financially unable to obtain counsel and you are charged with a felony offense, the court will appoint counsel for you and that counsel will represent you at your arraignment and all subsequent court proceedings.
However, beware that the court will place you under oath and examine your financial ability to determine whether or not you qualify for court-appointed counsel.
At the arraignment, the court will also set the case for either a status report or for its first trial setting. The arraignment will also start the formal proceedings against you, and all of the time requirements under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure dealing with discovery will start at that time. An attorney will be able to advise you of the formal charge against you, the “not guilty” plea you should enter, and the entire discovery you will be entitled to after your arraignment.
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If you have been charged with violating Florida laws, contact Galanter Law, P.A. We have helped countless clients avoid jail time, lessen their charges, or have their charges dropped.
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