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April 25, 2019

What Is a Felony Arraignment in Nevada?

Getting charged with a felony is a serious matter. If charged, it is essential that you provide yourself the best defense possible. While an arraignment is not a trial, it is a critical early step of your defense. This article will arm you with information that will help you navigate arraignment proceedings in Nevada.

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What Is a Felony Arraignment in Nevada?

A felony arraignment is a court appearance in which a criminal defendant is formally informed of the charges against him or her and asked to make an initial plea of innocence, guilt, or no contest.  

An arraignment proceeding is not a trial. You should not expect or attempt to provide a defense for yourself at arraignment. Think of your arraignment as a necessary formality that you must attend before defending yourself in front of the judge.  

Related: What Is the Nevada Criminal Process and Procedure?

What Is the Main Purpose of the Arraignment?

The purposes of arraignment:

1.    To formally present the charges levied against a defendant

2.    To allow a defendant to enter an initial plea

3.    To decide whether a defendant can be released pending trial

4.    To get the defendant’s next court date

5.    To set bail

6.    To determine whether to release a defendant

Arraignment Process: What Happens at a Felony Arraignment?

When you enter the courtroom housing your arraignment proceeding, immediately locate a courtroom clerk or marshal and check-in.  

Courtrooms handling arraignment proceedings are almost always hectic. Expect to see many defendants and several attorneys packing the room. Unlike most court proceedings, the courtroom may get loud, and there will be more than one thing happening at a time.

When you are seen before the judge, you will hear a formal presentation of the charges against you. After hearing the charges against you, you will be asked to enter your plea. Upon being asked to enter your plea, your options are to respectfully plea guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If your plea is not guilty at arraignment, you can change it before your next court date, and it is often wise to do so in exchange for a plea deal.  

If you enter a plea of guilty or no contest, the judge will likely provide you with a court date during which sentencing will take place. If you enter a not guilty plea, the judge will provide you with a preliminary hearing court date.

Can Charges Be Dropped at an Arraignment Hearing?

Yes. If the prosecutor deems that there is insufficient evidence to find you guilty at trial, she should drop your charges at the arraignment. Alternatively, if you have an attorney that effectively bargains with your prosecutor, the prosecutor may greatly reduce or completely drop the charges against you.     

Will I Go to Jail at My Arraignment?

It is possible that you will be taken to jail immediately following arraignment. The judge will determine whether you can be released pending trial and what the conditions for your release are. You may be arrested and required to post bail for a pre-trial release.  

A felony arraignment is an important step in your defense. While you shouldn’t provide a defense for yourself at arraignment, it is essential that you show up on time, dressed professionally, and make a good first impression. Hiring an experienced attorney is one way to help make an excellent first impression. An experienced attorney will know what to say and when to say it as well as get you in and out of the courtroom as quickly as possible.