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Arraignments Explained

Posted by attorney Paul Adras

Many people accused of committing a crime believe they can show up at the initial court hearing and plead their case to a judge. This is a common misconception. The court is not interested in hearing evidence at the initial court hearing, or arraignment. The arraignment is the initial court appearance on any criminal case in Nevada, regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony. The court will hear the arraignment in either the county's justice court facility, or the city's municipal court facility, depending upon either type of criminal conduct alleged, or the specific jurisdiction the alleged crime was committed in. At the time of the arraignment, the judge will ask you, or your counsel if you've hired an attorney, to enter a plea to the charges the prosecution is alleging in either the complaint or the information. You may elect to plead guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (no contest). After the defendant enters the plea upon the court's record, the judge will set the next court appearance hearing date. This can be either a jury trial, bench trial, or status hearing. Remember, the arraignment is not a hearing for you to explain to the court what happened, it is only the time to enter a plea once you have been accused of and charged with a crime.

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