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What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is the first time a defendant first sees a judge in a case. If you are arrested and held in jail, an arraignment must happen within 10 days. At the arraignment the defendant is formally charged, his or her rights are explained, and the defendant can enter a plea. You can request an attorney before or after arraignment.

There may be an opportunity to pay a bond to get out of jail. In that case, the courts have 30 days to hold an arraignment. You will pay a bail bondsman a percentage of the bail as insurance that you will show up for court. You may be offered an “Own Recognizance Bond” that requires no payment to a bail bondsman if you seem to be the kind of citizen who will show up for court.

Failure to Appear

Failing to appear for a court date is a crime added to your original charges. A bench warrant is ordered for your arrest. If you “bonded out” of jail through a bail bondsman, that bail bondsman is looking for you as well as the police!

If you fail to appear, bond may be denied and you could go to jail until your court appearance, or bond may be increased. Your license could be revoked. You will probably be charged with felony failure to appear and fined up to $5,000 and/or two years in jail.

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