District Attorney FAQ

What is an arraignment?

  • An arraignment is done at a person's first appearance in court after being charged with an offense. 
  • The arraignment process requires the court to advise the person appearing before it what they are charged with and what rights they have under the law.  
  • At arraignment the court will consider what kind of securing order to issue to make sure the person charged appears for future court dates.  The court can release a person on their own recognizance, release to probation supervision, set bail or remand to jail depending on the seriousness of the charges, the person's criminal history and a number of other factors.

What is bail for and how does it work?

  • Bail is an amount of money or other form of security set by the court  to insure the appearance of a defendant at every stage of a criminal proceeding.  Depending on the court's order it can be posted in cash or in some other form authorized by law.
  • A court must release a person on their own recognizance or set bail for anyone charged with a misdemeanor or lower offense.
  • A court may release a person on their own recognizance, set bail or remand to jail without bail anyone charged with a felony.
  • Before a court may order recognizance or bail on a felony matter it must give the District Attorney's Office an opportunity to be heard as to any recommendation.  The court is free to accept the recommendation or not.
  • A court can set bail in any amount it deems reasonable and appropriate to insure a defendant's furture appearance in court.

How does plea bargaining work and why is it used?

  • Plea bargaining is the process of resolving a criminal matter without having to go through the time and expense of a trial.
  • Plea bargaining requires the approval of the court.
  • Only a defendant can decide if he/she will accept a plea bargain and they must do so freely and voluntarily.
  • Many factors are taken into account when a plea bargain is reached.  Every case is different and not all factors will be weighed the same in every case.  Some of the factors considered are listed below, but there may be many others depending on the case:
    • Seriousness of the offense
    • Strengths and weaknesses of the available evidence
    • Availability of necessary witnesses
    • Input from the victim
    • Criminal history of the defendant
    • Need to protect public safety
    • Need for punishment or rehabilitation
    • The mental health, medical condition and/or treatment needs of the defendant

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