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The Basics of an Arraignment in Colorado

If you've been charged with a crime in Colorado, understanding the process of an arraignment is key to knowing your legal rights. In this article, we will provide an overview of what happens during an arraignment and how your options may unfold if you are unable to attend.

What is an Arraignment?

An arraignment is a formal hearing in which someone who has been charged with a criminal offense formally pleads "guilty" or "not guilty" to the charges before the court. During an arraignment, the defendant may also enter into plea negotiations with prosecutors and attempt to resolve their case without going to trial. The court will consider arguments from both sides before making a decision on whether or not to accept the plea agreement.

The Purpose of an Arraignment

Generally speaking, the purpose of an arraignment is to provide the defendant with information about the charges against them and their rights under the law. During this hearing the court will also take a plea from the defendant and determine if they are going to be granted bail or remain in custody until their trial. The judge will then set a date for either pretrial/preliminary hearings, or proceed directly to a trial date if needed.

What Happens During an Arraignment?

During an arraignment, the court will enter a formal charge against the defendant and the judge will read off those charges. The defendant will then be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the offense. Once the plea has been accepted and entered into the record, the court may move forward with further hearings or set a date for their trial if applicable. Finally, the judge may also consider setting bail for any individual charged with a crime.

Common Outcomes in Colorado Arraignments

The range of potential outcomes after an arraignment can look different across each case, and depend largely on the severity of the crime. If a defendant pleads not guilty, a plea bargain may be offered by the prosecution in order to avoid a drawn-out trial. If found guilty, sentences can vary from light punishments such as probation or fines, to more severe sentencing such as jail time or other court mandated penalties. In some cases defendants may also receive an alternative sentence such as restitution for their victims or community service hours.

Preparing for the Court Date

One of the most important things to consider before your court date is making sure you are thoroughly prepared for what will take place. The arraignment process can be daunting and confusing, so arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible beforehand may provide composure during the hearing. When attending an arraignment in Colorado, it's a good idea to gather necessary documents such as identification and any court paperwork that was issued, bring copies of relevant legal documents if needed, or better yet appear with your attorney.

What Happens After An Arrest?