What is An Arraignment Hearing?
An arraignment hearing is normally your first appearance in court before a judicial officer after you have been given an infraction ticket. You will be informed on the charges that have been leveled against you and advised of what your rights are. You may get an attorney to represent you or choose to handle the case on your own. However, you are not eligible for a court-appointed counsel.
What Happens During an Arraignment Hearing?
Arraignments are usually used by the court to let you know what you are getting charged with. You will also be informed of your basic legal rights- which includes the right to an attorney, to call witnesses who will testify for you, to cross-examine the officer, and in some of the states to ask for a jury trial. During the arraignment, the judge will normally address the traffic defendants in a group, and inform them of what their rights are.
In case you plead no-contest or guilty the judge may ask whether you fully understand what your rights are. In case you say that you do, you will not be able to complain later on.
What is A Court Trial?
A court trial refers to a trial that is carried out in the absence of a jury. The trial is carried out before a judge. It is also referred to as a “bench trial.” In order to save time, the judge may recommend that you accept a court trial. If the court offers the option chances are it benefits the court not you. A trial by written declaration is the best method to contest any traffic ticket in California. You will not be given this option by the court so you will need to be knowledgeable and request this legal option at your arraignment date.
If you carry out all the necessary homework, you will be able to cope with the sophisticated courtroom situation, your chances of getting a win are always increased when choosing the written declaration.
Another reason why you should press for a trial by written declaration is that it may make the prosecutor dismiss the case, especially if the case is very weak. Another reason that you should put into consideration is that the prosecutor may give you an opportunity to receive a reduced charge. Therefore, in case a judge tries to discourage you from taking your case to trial there are a few reasons why you should insist on the violation being proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
In California during arraignment, you may be asked whether you have ever been convicted before for any traffic offenses. Sometimes, higher fines may be imposed on you in case you are a repeat traffic law offender. You should never lie. It is recommended that you always tell the truth.
Understanding Speedy Trial Rules
The 6th Amendment of the constitution guarantees a speedy and public trial in all criminal cases. However, it does not define what exactly “speedy” is. A majority of states have laws which define the term “speedy.” For example, in the state of California, a case can be dismissed in case it is not brought to trial within a period of 45 days, after a plea of not guilty has been entered before a judge.
When your state’s speedy trial deadline is very short, pressured court judges will most likely ask you to relinquish your right to a speedy trial. Usually, this is done during arraignment or in case you make a motion to discover the notes of the officer. In case you enter a not-guilty plea at a clerk’s office in the state of California, the court clerk will ask you to sign a form that says that you waive your right to a speedy trial for you to have the convenience of skipping the formal arraignment. In some states, you may have the choice of whether you want to relinquish your right to speedy trial.
In busy courthouses, your trial will most likely be scheduled towards the end of the time that is allowed by the state laws. This means that in case the officer fails to apply for the trial, and the judge fails to dismiss the ticket (this is something that a traffic judge may do. However, they are not required to), he/she will have to reschedule the trial with the officer who is present before the deadline of the “speedy trial”. At times, this may not be possible. Therefore, you will end up winning the case.