If you are facing federal charges in the State of Maryland, an arraignment will likely be the first time you face your charges in court as you enter your initial plea and a judge decides whether you should be released up until the trial date. Below, a Maryland federal criminal lawyer discusses what you should expect at arraignment and how an attorney can help. To learn more, call and schedule a consultation today.
The most important thing you can do to protect your future is to arrange for conditions of release that do not require a judge to make big decisions, because judges in federal courts tend to be very conservative. A Maryland federal lawyer does not want their client held in jail when they could have negotiated release with slightly more restrictive release conditions.
At an arraignment, the judge will decide whether you should be released. Many times, a defense attorney will make an agreement with the prosecutor to let you go home pending trial if you meet certain conditions, such as agreeing in advance to a curfew or to wearing an electronic bracelet that tracks movement. An attorney’s goal is to prevent you from going before a judge who might rule against you. If the government does not ask for you to be held, most of the time the judge will not initiate a hold. Thus, negotiation over conditions is a lot of what is discussed at the arraignment.
In addition, the nuts and bolts of an arraignment include the reading of the charge(s), the assertion of constitutional rights, and sometimes the scheduling of the trial and other hearings.
If a judge chooses not to release you, you should expect to be held in jail. A detention hearing will take place where a lawyer will try to have the person released either on personal recognizance, to home confinement with an electronic bracelet, or to a halfway house pending trial. That is typically what happens if a person is held initially in jail.
If you win a detention hearing then you will be able to go home. If you lose, you will remain in jail while the case is pending.
Federal arraignments in Maryland take place in either the courthouse in Greenville or the courthouse in Baltimore.
At an arraignment a person will enter a not guilty plea to all the charges 99 percent of the time. Sometimes if you come to an agreement after a long investigation, you might come in to give what is called a pre-indictment guilty plea, but this is outside the arraignment process.
There is a whole body of forfeiture law and forfeiture proceeding statutes that govern when the government can seize your house or car. Each federal circuit has different rules about forfeiture; when the government can take money or property they believe will essentially compensate for the money or other items that have been taken as a result of the alleged crime.
With that said, however, there are variety of steps you can take which involves filing an appeal. It can be a complicated process that involves a large body of law and different types of forfeiture issues.