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Arraignment: How Should I Plea in an Arizona Criminal Court

Following an arrest, you will be required to appear in court for an Arraignment.  This is your opportunity to inform the court of how you wish to plea, which dictates the type of criminal processing that takes place from there.   If you wish to obtain legal representation, and defend your charges, you should plead “Not Guilty”. This invokes your rights to a defense and retention of counsel.

Types of Court Pleas  

There are three ways a person can plead in an Arizona criminal court. Each will have a separate outcome in your case:

Not Guilty – This means that you deny guilt, and wish to retain qualified legal representation. When you plead “not guilty” the burden of proof shifts to the prosecution. The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the DUI or charges against you.  If you enter a plea of not guilty on your arraignment date, the judge will set your case for either a pre-trial conference or a formal trial date.

Guilty – You admit or agree with the charges; that you committed the act for which you were accused; the act is prohibited by law; and that you have no legal or justifiable defense for your criminal act. The Arizona AZ Court judge will proceed with your sentencing at this time. The judge will then move forward with the sentencing proceedings.

No Contest – This plea means that although you do not admit guilt, you do not intend to challenge the charges or evidence against you. It also means you will accept the conviction, sentencing and punishments of the criminal charge. The judge will then move forward with the sentencing proceedings.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Arraignment in AZ

It is never a good idea go to court unrepresented. If you have not retained an defense attorney in Gilbert but intend to, you should always plead not guilty, and inform the judge of your intentions. Depending on the charges, the Arraignment may be vacated if you have retained an attorney. The will either be present in court for you, or enter a “not guilty plea” on your behalf.

An attorney will then begin the criminal defense process. They will protect your rights; conduct their own investigation challenging unjustified evidence and charges; filing motions, attending court dates, and negotiating the best possible resolution to your case. Your chances of getting any type of favorable outcome will increase if you retain a private practice criminal defense attorney to defend you.