An arraignment is usually the first court hearing in a criminal case where
criminal defendants are formally advised about the charges they face,
their constitutional rights, and are then asked to enter a plea to the
charges. In most cases, pleading "not guilty" is a good idea.
The following are several reasons why defendants initially plead “not
guilty” at arraignment:
The prosecution must prove your case – A not-guilty plea means that the defendant must make the state prove the
case against him/her. This requires the prosecution to collect the evidence
against the defendant and gives the defense a chance to investigate the
case, assess the evidence, and build a defense strategy.
The possibility of a lesser charge – If a defendant pleads guilty, the judge does not have the authority
to lower the charge or to offer a deferred disposition that could ultimately
lead to dismissal.
No legal representation – At the start of the case, most defendants do not have a lawyer
on their side or received qualified legal advice. Pleading guilty means
not being able to fight those charges.
Avoid an instant criminal record – If a defendant enters a guilty plea to a charge, he/she will have
a record of a conviction of that charge.
Uncertain consequences – Without an attorney, defendants aren’t immediately aware
of the possible consequences of conviction. Not only will there be criminal
penalties, but also personal repercussions—such as loss of job or
professional license—that the court might not explain.
If you have been charged with a crime in Santa Barbara, our experienced
legal team at
Appel & Morse can protect your rights and future at arraignment. Understand any circumstances,
do not plead guilty before seeking knowledgeable legal advice.
For more information,
contact us and schedule a free consultation today.