Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys On Your Side

When you are accused of a crime there are several procedural steps that must take place between the moment of your arrest and a federal criminal trial. These procedures are required to protect your Constitutional right to due process, and people are familiar with many of them.

For example, television and movies have introduced viewers to the list of rights law enforcement must read upon arrest, such as, the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. The procedure of a federal court arraignment is less familiar, but just as pertinent to your federal criminal trial.

What Is Federal Court Arraignment?

Arraignment is your first appearance in federal court after an arrest. It is during arraignment that the prosecutor will read the exact charges against the defendant and the defendant must enter a plea to each charge. Arraignment is also the time when bail is set or a judge requires the defendant remanded to federal prison.

In short, arraignment is an incredibly important part of the federal procedure process.

Rule 10: The Law on Federal Court Arraignment

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provide the requirements and process for any federal criminal prosecution. This means that the requirements of these Federal Rules are mandatory for the prosecution, defense, and federal courts. The requirements for a federal court arraignment are found in Rule 10 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Rule 10 states that an arraignment must occur in open court. It cannot take place in secret or without the defendant present. The rule further requires that the indictment, which means the charges, against the defendant are read in open court and provided to the defendant. Finally, in open court the defendant must enter a plea to the indictment. The defendant can plead differently to each count of the indictment.

Rule 10 and Waiving Your Appearance in Court

As stated, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are in place to protect the due process rights of the defendant. This imposes several requirements on the federal prosecutor, but also allows the defendant to waive many of his or her rights afforded under the Federal Rules.

One requirement that a defendant can choose to waive under Rule 10(b) is that the defendant needs to be present at arraignment. This is called waiving appearance. Instead, a defendant can sign a waiver, in the presence of the defendant’s legal counsel, that affirms the defendant has received a copy of the indictment, pleads not guilty to all charges of the indictment, and waives the right to appearance in a federal court arraignment.

A federal criminal defendant can only waive the right to appear at his or her arraignment if pleading not guilty to all charges.

Timing & Logistics of Federal Arraignment

In a federal criminal case, arraignment happens very early in the process. By its very nature, federal court arraignment must take place before a federal prosecutor can finalize a plea bargain or a federal defense lawyer can negotiate a settlement. Federal court arraignment comes before depositions and criminal trial. However, the timing requirements for arraignment are more finite in the rules of federal procedure.

When Does Arraignment Take Place?

The timing for arraignment is actually constrained by the U.S. Constitution. Under the Sixth Amendment, federal law enforcement cannot arrest and hold someone for an unreasonable or extended period of time. Typically, a reasonable length of time is 72 hours after an arrest.

Factors that may lead to a longer time frame between arrest and arraignment include transporting the defendant to another state or jurisdiction for arraignment or injury or illness preventing the defendant from being coherent and able to appear in court.

Defense Counsel at Your Arraignment

You should have a federal defense lawyer at your arraignment. Defense counsel can fully explain the charges against you and the severity of these charges. A defense lawyer is also responsible for advising you on how to plead, whether guilty, not guilty, or no contest, and can argue to decrease the bail amount.

As well, you are less likely to be remanded to federal prison as you await trial with the assistance of a skilled and experienced federal defense lawyer.

Find a defense lawyer for your federal court arraignment here