Today I received a call from a young lady who did not understand the importance of her arraignment. Her plan was to attend court and see what happened. Her plan was flawed on several fronts.
The first problem was that she had not yet retained counsel. She was charged with a serious criminal offense and missed the opportunity to both investigate her case and to negotiate with the prosecutor before he or she filed a formal accusation or brought the case before the Grand Jury.
When a person is arrested, a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney can intercede early on and help, even if a person is guilty. The first step is to investigate the case for possible defenses. Then, armed with the facts, your lawyer can speak to the prosecutor about a pre-indictment plea agreement or even a dismissal.
When an accused person agrees to take responsibility early on, most prosecutors will offer a reduced sentence. Also, when a prosecutor can be shown that someone is innocent of the charge, they will dismiss the case. No prosecutor wants to charge a person who is innocent. In fact, prosecutors have a duty to do what is just and fair. Sometimes, a defense attorney can help them see things from a different point of view.
The second issue has to do with what attorneys call "legal defenses." Actual innocence is a factual defense to a case. For example, when someone has an alibi or could not have physically committed a crime, those are factual defenses. A person that asserts a factual defense means they are claiming that they are innocent of the crime for which they are accused.
A legal defense is when an accused person says that the police did not follow the proper procedures or violated someone's rights. The claim in these situations is not innocence. In our system of law, if the police do not follow proper procedure or violate the rights of someone, the court will dismiss the case or at least not allow the state to use some of the evidence gathered.
To exercise and present these defenses, Your Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer files “motions.” They are many types of motions, but they share one thing in common. Motions must be filed at or before arraignment, or in some circumstances within ten days of arraignment.
Again, this is why hiring an attorney well before arraignment is important. To file the right motions, your attorney needs to have first investigated the facts of the case and reviewed the applicable law.
To be perfectly clear, failure to file the correct and timely motions in a criminal case significantly reduces the possibility of a good and fair outcome therein.
Please take your arraignment seriously, and hire counsel well before.