What is an Arraignment in Texas?
An arraignment in Texas can mean two different things.
First, a person is arraigned at the inception of the case against them. This is when the judge reads and describes the nature of the charge aloud to the defendant. If a bond hasn’t been set, the judge will address the bond at this point in the arraignment process in Texas.
Second, another arraignment occurs after the case is filed. This is a critical stage in the Texas criminal justice system. The defendant is formally charged with an offense and enters a plea. During this arraignment, the judge reads the charges against the defendant, who then enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
In some jurisdictions, this occurs at a preliminary setting. In other jurisdictions, a defendant is arraigned when the case is set for trial.
This article will distinguish the two arraignments as the preliminary arraignment and the formal arraignment.
How does the Arraignment Process work in Texas?
Timeframe: The preliminary arraignment process in Texas typically occurs within 48 to 72 hours after an arrest. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 26.01 states that the defendant must be arraigned in court without unnecessary delay.
Legal representation: At the preliminary arraignment, when the defendant is advised of his charge, attorneys for either side are not present.
At the formal arraignment, the defendant has the right to an attorney. The court appoints a public defender if the defendant cannot afford an attorney.
Plea options: The defendant will be asked to enter a plea during the arraignment. The options are:
- Guilty – Defendant admits guilt, and the case proceeds to the sentencing phase.
- Not Guilty – Defendant denies guilt, and the case proceeds to pretrial hearings and possibly a trial.
- No contest (Nolo contendere) – Defendant neither admits nor disputes the charges, and the case proceeds to sentencing. Not all courts accept a plea of no contest. It is sometimes used to avoid the civil collateral consequences of a guilty plea in the criminal context.
What are the Bail and Bond Conditions at Preliminary Arraignments in Texas?
During the preliminary arraignment, Texas judges determine if the defendant should be released on bail or remain in custody until trial. The judges consider factors such as the defendant’s criminal history, flight risk, and the nature of the alleged offense.
If the judge sets bail, the defendant may be released upon payment of a bond, a financial guarantee that the defendant will return to court for future proceedings. Bail conditions may also be imposed, such as a no-contact order or substance-abuse treatment requirements.
How should you prepare for your formal arraignment in Texas?
For the best outcome in your case, you should follow these steps ahead of your formal arraignment:
Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney: Retain an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and is familiar with the local courts and Texas laws.
Gather documentation: Obtain copies of police reports, witness statements, and any other evidence that may support your defense. Provide those to your attorney.
Review your options: Discuss your plea options and potential defense strategies with your attorney. Remember, you don’t have to navigate this process alone. The defense team at Varghese Summersett will guide you through the arraignment process in Texas, help gather the documents, and have you fully prepared for each step. Call us today at 817-203-2220 or contact us online.
Are you or a family member facing an arraignment hearing? Call us.
Don’t face the arraignment process alone. Call Varghese Summersett today for expert legal representation. Our team has unmatched results over four decades of defending clients in North Texas. We can help you throughout the arraignment process in Texas.
For a complimentary consultation, call us at 817-203-2220 or contact us online.