If you have been arrested and your case is headed to court, one of the most important milestones is what is commonly known as “plea day.” You may also hear it called your “arraignment.”
Plea day is the first day you will be scheduled to appear in court. And as the name suggests, the main order of business is for you to enter your plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.”
During the court appearance, you will also be advised of the charges against you. Odds are you already have a clear understanding of these charges, but this is a formal reminder of why you were arrested.
Once you have entered your plea, the court may order a pre-sentence investigation (if you pleaded guilty) or set a trial date (if you pleaded not guilty). The judge will not rule on any other matters—like bond reduction requests, for example—on plea day.
You are, of course, entitled to representation to defend you against the charges. So, if you have arrived at your plea day appearance without an attorney, the judge will ask you if you intend to hire a private criminal defense attorney or if you would prefer to have a public defender represent you.
There is an advantage to having hired an attorney to represent you before plea day arrives. Your criminal defense attorney can file a written plea of “not guilty” along with what is known as a “waiver of arraignment.” If your lawyer files a written plea, you should not have to appear in court for plea day.
It is important to note, however, that you will want to verify with your attorney that they have completed these steps. If they have not and you do not appear for your arrangement, you could be charged with failure to appear—a situation that just adds to your legal woes.
Contact an Okaloosa County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.