What Happens at an Arraignment for a Sex Offense in Rhode Island? A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Being charged with a sex offense in Rhode Island can cause immense stress and anxiety. Perhaps you never anticipated being accused of such a horrendous crime, or maybe you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless of the situation that led to your arrest, it is crucial to know what to expect at your arraignment. An arraignment is the first formal court proceeding and can set the tone for the rest of your case.
At the arraignment, the judge will read out the charges against you and ask you how you plead. Typically, a plea is "guilty," "not guilty" or "no contest." In Rhode Island, at the very first court date you are not allowed to plead guilty or no contest. The judge will typically inform you that no plea can enter in District Court for a felony offense. This is for the best, because it is ill-advised to plead guilty without speaking to a criminal defense lawyer first. A guilty plea can result in lifelong consequences, including prison time, sex offender registration, and a tarnished reputation.
After a plea of "not guilty" enters, the case is referred to the Attorney General's office for screening or to the Grand Jury for indictment (depending on the exact charge). It is essential to hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to start working on your defense. The lawyer will work to gather evidence, investigate the case, and build a strong defense. Your lawyer will also represent you in court, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence on your behalf. A criminal defense lawyer can make a world of difference in the outcome of your case - including what evidence can be presented during the screening phase!
At the arraignment, the judge will also set conditions for your release. These conditions may include surrendering your passport, counseling, or a ban on contacting victims or witnesses. The judge may also require you to check in with a pretrial services officer, similar to a probation officer for people already convicted of an offense. A criminal defense lawyer can argue for less restrictive conditions of release and make sure that your rights are protected.
Additionally, if bail is required, your lawyer will argue for a reasonable amount. Bail is meant to ensure that you show up to future court proceedings and does not serve as a punishment. A criminal defense lawyer can make the argument for lower bail or a release on your own recognizance (PR) if appropriate. This way, you can return to your normal life while waiting for your trial.
In some circumstances, the prosecutor will ask that no bail be set, and that the accused be held without bail for the duration of the case. This is reserved for the most serious allegations, and it is crucial that you hire a defense lawyer with experience handling serious felonies. A bail hearing will be scheduled and your attorney will be allowed to confront the case against you, as well as argue all of the reasons that you are not a danger to the community or a risk of flight. The more time your attorney has to prepare, the better- so begin the search for the right attorney as soon as possible.
Being accused of a sex offense can feel overwhelming. However, it is crucial to understand what will happen at your arraignment and how a criminal defense lawyer can help. A good lawyer can challenge the charges against you, fight for reasonable bail conditions, and represent you in court. If you or someone you know is facing a sex offense charge, don't hesitate to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and advocate for your rights. Contact Manosh Payette, LLC, because your future deserves the best defense.