An arraignment is the court proceeding at which a judge formally presents the criminal charges against the accused. An arraignment is also when the accused enters a plea of guilty or not guilty.
While it’s recommended that defendants use the time between arrest and arraignment to hire an experienced Denver criminal defense lawyer, there are other procedural steps that take place during this time.
Below, the defense team from Wolf Law summarizes what typically happens from arrest to arraignment.
After an Arrest in Denver…
Once an arrest has been made, police take the defendant into custody, which usually involves a search, handcuffs, and a ride in the back of a police car.
It’s important to note that during this time the individual in custody may not be given a Miranda warning; a Miranda warning is only needed to question or interview a suspect.
Police officers have been known to avoid arresting a suspect until after they’ve collected incriminating statements—in other words, statements made to police before an official arrest or the Miranda warning can be used against a defendant in court.
Once in police custody, defendants are taken to jail to begin the criminal booking process. This step involves gathering personal information from the accused (e.g., name, address, etc.), a full-body search, fingerprinting, and photos (i.e., a mug shot). During this time, personal property may also be seized and cataloged as evidence.
Bookings typically take place at the Denver City Detention Center (also referred to as Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center) located at 490 W. Colfax Avenue in Denver, Colorado 80204.
After booking, and depending on the circumstances, defendants can expect to wait between 24 and 72 hours for their arraignment.
Getting Out of Jail: Bail vs. Bond
Bond amounts are set by a judge, not the police or the district attorney, and they’re typically set at the defendant’s first advisement hearing.
If a person is arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, the defendant will appear for advisement in the County Courtrooms at the Denver City Detention Center.
The defendant may be released from custody via personal recognizance (i.e., PR bond), cash bail, or surety bond, (i.e., bail bond). While you may hear some of these terms used interchangeably, they’re very different and only available under specific conditions:
PR Bond—typically available for first-time offenders and low-level, non-violent crimes. PR bonds do not involve a fee; instead, the defendant simply promises to return for all required court appointments.
Cash Bond—the money a defendant has to pay to get out of jail. A cash bond is collateral held by the courts to ensure the defendant returns for court appointments. Most of the money is returned (minus court fees and costs), so long as the defendant meets all appointment obligations.
Bail Bond—posted on the defendant’s behalf by a bail bond company. The bail bond company posts the total amount and the defendant pays only a percentage of the total (no more than 15 percent in Colorado) to the bail bond company. However, if the defendant does not fulfill his appointment obligations, the defendant will be obligated to pay the full bail amount to the bail bond company. Most bail bond companies will require collateral (i.e., car, home) to sign a bail bond agreement.
If a defendant can’t post bond (or make bail) they remain in custody. If a defendant violates conditions set by the judge to remain out on bond, the bond can be revoked and the defendant returned to custody.
If the defendant is held in custody, the District Attorney (DA) must generally file charges within three business days of the arrest; however, the court may approve time extensions.
Depending on the charge, an arraignment hearing may or may not be a defendant’s first appearance in court.
With some felony charges, the next court date after the first advisement may be a preliminary hearing at which the prosecutor presents evidence to prove that the defendant committed the crime.
If the judge determines sufficient evidence exists, the felony case will be “bound over” to District Court for arraignment. If a felony case is bound over from County Court, the first hearing in District Court is arraignment.
The arraignment and all subsequent court hearings in District Court are held in the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse located at 520 W Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80204.
Aggressive Representation—Knowledge You Can Trust
If you’re being investigated for a crime or are facing criminal charges, it’s in your best interest is to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, especially prior to arraignment.
Most criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations to help you understand your legal options. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Colorado, the Denver criminal defense attorneys at Wolf Law are ready to take your call.