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New York City Criminal Arraignment

At the arraignment is where you will learn what charges have been brought against you. At the arraignment, your lawyer and the prosecutor may discuss the possibility of settling your case without the need of having a trial. They may negotiate a plea bargain which you may either accept and plead guilty, or reject and plead not guilty. The Law Offices of Michael S. Discioarro can effectively represent you at the arraignment and assure you go home and not back to jail.

You have the right to a lawyer at the arraignment. You may hire your own lawyer or, if you do not have enough money to hire your own lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer from The Legal Aid Society, the Assigned Counsel Plan for the City of New York (18-B lawyer), Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, New York County Defender Services, Queens Law Associates, P.C., or the Office of Paul Battiste, Esq. (Staten Island). In the most serious homicide cases, a lawyer from the Capital Defender's Office, or a lawyer specially trained to handle such cases, will be appointed. All such lawyers are paid by the State. If you intend to hire your own lawyer, but cannot do so in time for your arraignment, the judge will appoint one to represent you, at the State's expense, for the arraignment only. After that time, the lawyer you hire will represent you. You may also represent yourself and act as your own lawyer; however, it is better to have a lawyer represent you. If you are not content with the lawyer who is representing you, you may ask the judge to appoint a new lawyer for you or allow you to hire a new lawyer at your own expense. If you do not have a good reason for wanting a new lawyer, the judge will not appoint a new lawyer and may not allow you to hire a new lawyer.

If you are in jail, the prosecutor will have a chance at the arraignment to ask the judge to keep you in jail (remand) or order bail. Your lawyer will be given a chance to reply to the prosecutor's arguments. The judge will then decide your bail conditions. Your bail conditions may change as your case continues.

If you are released, you must appear in court every time your case is calendared. At each court appearance, you will be informed of your next court date. Your lawyer should inform you if the date is changed. However, it is your responsibility to know when and where to appear. You should arrive in court at 9:30 a.m. or at what ever time the judge sets and wait there for your lawyer to appear. If you do not appear and do not notify the court or your lawyer, the judge will order a bench warrant for your arrest. This means that the police will be notified to find you, arrest you, and bring you to court. If you have posted bail, it may be forfeited (not returned to you). If the police arrest you and bring you to court, the judge may change your bail conditions by requiring that you pay more bail or by remanding you. Once a bench warrant is ordered, it remains on your fingerprint report (rap sheet).

In some instances, the judge may order you to stay away from a witness or victim. This order is called a temporary order of protection. If you do not obey the order, you could be arrested and new charges may be brought against you for disobeying the order. The judge may also order stricter bail conditions for disobeying the temporary order of protection.