The arraignment is the first time you go to court in relation to your case. If you have hired an attorney, your attorney may go with you to court. The hearing proceeds in this order:
1. All the information concerning your arraignment is noted on your citation, including time, date, and courtroom number. If you do not have a citation call the city (441-7283) or county (441-7321) attorney´s office to get this information.
- If you plead guilty or no contest, the judge will ask the prosecutor for a factual basis. The prosecutor will read facts supporting the charge from the police report. The judge will ask if you have anything to say about the facts. You may give your version.
- If the judge accepts the guilty or no contest plea, he or she will usually proceed immediately to sentencing unless the judge wants to order a pre-sentence investigation, in which case a sentencing date will be set about five or six weeks away. If the judge proceeds to sentencing, you will have a chance to speak on your own behalf before the sentence is given.
- If you are charged with a misdemeanor in Lancaster County, a Student Legal Services attorney might represent you. If you are charged with a crime that carries a possible jail sentence and you can´t afford to hire an attorney, you may ask the court to appoint an attorney from the Public Defender´s Office to represent you.
- Always plead "not guilty" at arraignment unless you have discussed your case with an attorney and you are sure you do not want to contest the charge. You can change your plea to guilty later in the proceedings if you want to and the judge will not penalize you for pleading not guilty at arraignment.