The Criminal Arraignment Process in Massachusetts


Arraignment Process in Massachusetts

Several times each week and sometimes multiple times in a day I am in a court in Massachusetts representing a client at his arraignment. This proceeding is so familiar to me that I often take for granted that my clients will know what to expect and how the arraignment process in Massachusetts works. In truth, unless you have been involved in the criminal legal process in the past you probably don’t know what will happen at this hearing. This post examines the process and what you should expect on the day of your arraignment.

You Have to Check in With the Probation Department First

Whether or not you were summonsed or arrested you have to check in with the probation department prior to being arraigned. This is a necessary formality. The probation department will ask you some for some biographical information. They will want your address, date of birth, the correct spelling of your name, your place of employment and information about your net worth. With this information the probation department will run a criminal records check and send a copy of your CORI into the courtroom for the judge and district attorney to view. If you don’t check in with probation the court will not call your case.

There May Be A Bail Argument

Depending on the nature of the charges and your criminal history there may be a bail argument. Usually, if you were summonsed and you appear in court promptly there will not be an issue of bail. Conversely, if you were arrested your lawyer might have to argue bail for you. Your lawyer can discuss this with the assistant district attorney prior to the arraignment. Sometimes your lawyer and the prosecutor will agree to an order of bail. It is important that prior to being arraigned you meet with your lawyer to discuss the facts of the case so that a more favorable view of the incident can be given to the judge. You also want to discuss any prior convictions or defaults with your attorney so that he or she can qualify these when arguing for your release on personal recognizance or an affordable bail.

You Enter A Plea Of Not Guilty

In Massachusetts you don’t have to worry about this. The clerk who calls the arraignments typically enters a plea of not guilty on your behalf when your case gets called.

You Might Want to Have Your Arraignment Continued

Some cases warrant a continuance of your arraignment. Keep in mind that once your get arraigned there is a court record that shows that you have an open criminal case. Depending on the industry in which you work your employer might be able to access this information. This can result in suspension from your job or possible termination. For example, a public school teacher who gets arrested for a drug charge could face rejection when trying to renew her teaching license. In this case, you would want to continue your arraignment and possibly have your lawyer resolve your case prior to arraignment. Prosecutors and police officers are very sensitive to these matters particularly where the alleged crime is one “that could happen to anybody”. Make sure your talk to your lawyer about this option as well.

You Might Want to Resolve Your Case Prior to Arraignment

Following up on the last paragraph, there are times when you can resolve your case prior to arraignment. If you can do this then do it. You don’t want to have your name “in the system” if you can avoid it.

The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, PC is committed to defending the accused. If you have to go to court call us. We can be reached at 617-263-6800 at all times. Do not wait. Act now and let us protect your rights for you.