There are many reasons a person can benefit from having a private attorney on the case before the arraignment. If you have been arrested, received a summons to appear, or you are trying to help a loved one through the process, here are several reasons to consider seeking legal advice before your first appearance:
1) If you are arrested and in custody, a lawyer can help explain the bail process and get you connected with someone who can get you released before court. Studies show that defendants who are in jail throughout the criminal justice process have worse outcomes.
2) If you have received a summons to appear, you likely need some guidance on what that means and how to best proceed. Receiving a summons can be frustrating to the accused because they are often mailed many months after an incident took place when memories are fading or perhaps the defendant had no idea she was being investigated. Defendants are often very confused when a summons arrives in the mail. It helps to investigate and discuss the criminal charge being alleged before you walk blindly into court.
3) Many people have difficulty getting time off of work on short notice to appear in court. If you make contact with a criminal defense attorney earlier enough, he can typically waive the arraignment, which excuses your presence.
4) In some situations, the case can be resolved before your arraignment! If there is enough time, we can work on a Compromise of Misdemeanor or a Pretrial Diversion Agreement. These options apply to certain criminal charges and, if the State is amenable, we can have an arrangement prepared before your arraignment.
5) If the case does not resolve before arraignment, we can usually get the conditions of release to be more favorable. For example, if the Prosecutor is requesting an ignition interlock, we will have our clients get an alcohol evaluation prior to the arraignment. This allows the Judge to better determine whether that condition should actually apply and gives you a better chance of avoiding these costly conditions of release.
6) Hiring a private attorney allows you to speak with your counsel and get legal advice before walking into court for the first time. This does not happen when you are waiting to be assigned a public defender. You have to wait until after an arraignment to schedule a meeting with a public defender. Depending on how much time you allow, your private defense attorney might be able to develop a comprehensive strategy before the arraignment.
7) As an added bonus, a good private attorney will keep you apprised of all court dates. It is important to never miss court! Failing to Appear (FTA) negatively impacts your attorney’s negotiating power and potential positive resolutions for your case. However, do not expect a public defender to email or call you to remind you of a court date. They have far too many cases to add that to their “to do” list. That is not the case with private counsel—expect to get regular reminders.
There are many more reasons to seek counsel before arraignment but, basically, everything runs more smoothly if you are prepared. If you are unsure whether you need counsel, it is best to seek a free consultation and discuss your concerns. We are available 7 days a week and can handle everything over the phone. If you prefer to meet in person, we have offices in Bremerton, Poulsbo, and Gig Harbor.
For more information on hiring an attorney before your arraignment: