Member of:
Justia Lawyer Rating
American Association for Justice
Union Plus

New York Criminal Arraignment

In New York, the arraignment is the first step in the criminal court process following an arrest. This proceeding sets the stage for a defendant’s journey through the legal system. An arraignment is not merely a formality; it is a foundational part of ensuring a person's rights are upheld as they face the criminal justice system. During this procedure, the charges against the defendant are formally read, and decisions about bail and further court dates are made. See N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 180.10. Understanding the arraignment process can help defendants and their families navigate what is often a challenging and stressful time. Given the complexities and the potential consequences of the arraignment process, it is highly advisable to contact an experienced New York criminal lawyer who can provide guidance, protect your rights, and ensure that the best possible legal strategies are employed from the outset. Stephen Bilkis & Associates will not only help in understanding the charges and the court procedures but also in making crucial decisions about how to plead and whether to negotiate a plea deal or proceed to trial.

What Happens During Arraignment

An arraignment in New York typically occurs within 24-72 hours of the defendant’s arrest. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 140.20. The primary purpose of this initial court appearance is to inform the defendant of the formal charges filed against them. It is also at this stage that the defendant will first have the opportunity to enter a plea: guilty, not guilty, or, in some cases, no contest.

  1. Reading of the Charges: The court officially informs the defendant of the charges against them. It is crucial that the defendant understands these charges as they form the basis of the legal proceedings to follow.
  2. The Right to Counsel: If the defendant does not already have an experienced New York criminal lawyer, the court will inform them of their right to legal representation. If they cannot afford a private lawyer, the court will appoint a public defender or legal aid attorney to represent them.
  3. Determination of Bail: One of the most critical aspects of the arraignment is the determination of bail. The judge will decide whether the defendant can be released on bail pending trial and, if so, at what amount. The decision is influenced by factors such as the severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, ties to the community, and the potential risk of flight. For example, in State ex rel. Hose v. Molina 2024 N.Y. Slip Op. 24104 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2024), at the defendant’s arraignment, bail was set at  bail was set at $25,000 cash, $75,000 insurance company bond, and $75,000 partially secured bond.
  4. Future Court Dates: The judge will set dates for future proceedings, including pre-trial motions, hearings, and the trial itself. It is important for the defendant to keep track of these dates and to maintain communication with their criminal attorney in New York regarding their case.
What Happens After Arraignment

Following the arraignment, several pathways can shape the defendant’s case depending on the plea entered and the nature of the charges:

  1. Pre-Trial Activities: If a not guilty plea is entered, the case moves into the pre-trial phase. During this period, the defense and prosecution prepare for trial. This preparation may involve the exchange of evidence during discovery, filing motions (such as motions to suppress evidence), and negotiations for plea deals.
  2. Plea Bargaining: Many criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining. Here, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge in return for a lighter sentence than what might result from a trial. These negotiations are critical and can significantly affect the outcome of the case.
  3. Trial Preparation: If the case is going to trial, both sides prepare by examining evidence, interviewing witnesses, and formulating legal strategies. Trials can be complex and lengthy, depending on the nature of the case.
  4. Ongoing Legal Support: Throughout the pre-trial and trial phases, continuous legal support and counsel are paramount. The defendant should be in regular contact with their attorney to discuss their case and any developments.
Arraignment and Speedy Trial Clock

The Speedy Trial Clock is a legal mechanism designed to ensure that a defendant's right to a speedy trial is protected by preventing undue delays in the prosecution of a criminal case. This clock starts ticking from the moment charges are formally filed against a defendant, which in New York is at arraignment. The Speedy Trial Clock sets specific time limits within which the state must commence trial. If the state fails to bring the defendant to trial within this prescribed timeframe, the defendant can motion for the charges to be dismissed based on a violation of their speedy trial rights.

The concept originates from the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to a "speedy and public trial" to anyone accused of a crime. The interpretation and implementation of what constitutes "speedy" can vary by jurisdiction but is generally defined by statutory law at both the federal and state levels.

In New York, the Speedy Trial Clock is governed by the New York Criminal Procedure Law (specifically, CPL § 30.20 and CPL § 30.30). CPL § 30.30, often referred to as the "ready rule," mandates that the prosecution must be ready to proceed to trial within six months of the commencement of a criminal action involving a felony charge. For example, in People v. Vernon, 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 23073 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. 2023), the prosecution exceeded the 6-month speedy trial requirement. As a result, the charges against the defendant were dismissed and his case was sealed.

For misdemeanors, the requirement is usually 90 days, depending on the severity of the charge.

The clock can be stopped (paused) for various reasons, such as:

  • Defendant requests or consents to a delay,
  • Consideration of motions or interlocutory appeals,
  • The defendant is unavailable or has absconded,
  • Exceptional circumstances that are beyond the control of the court or the parties involved.

The Speedy Trial Clock ensures that cases are handled efficiently and without unnecessary or deliberate delay, thereby safeguarding the defendant's right to a fair trial within a reasonable time. It also helps manage court resources effectively by encouraging the timely resolution of criminal cases.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Navigating the complexities of the New York criminal justice system can be daunting. If you or a loved one are going through the arraignment process or facing criminal charges, it is crucial to have experienced, competent legal representation. The experienced criminal attorneys serving New York at Stephen Bilkis & Associates offer comprehensive legal support, ensuring that your rights are protected during arraignment and throughout your case. With a deep understanding of New York criminal law and a commitment to client advocacy, Stephen Bilkis & Associates can provide the guidance and representation needed to navigate the challenges of the criminal justice system effectively. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of your situation. We serve clients in Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

New York Criminal Lawyer Blog - Criminal Procedure
Client Reviews
My wife and I met under some unconventional circumstances. After I had some legal problems, Mr Bilkis and his firm continually got me out of trouble. I then had his firm represented my wife and he got her out of trouble! We are still married and got our ways straightened away. We both can't thank him enough for saving our lives and our families! J.P.
I contacted Stephen Bilkis' office for an issue regarding a family member and I could not be happier with the results. I have recommended the firm to friends and family, all of whom were also ecstatic with Mr. Bilkis and all members of his staff. P.R.
I was in need of legal assistance for a very sensitive matter for a family member. I contacted the law offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC and was met with staff whose demeanor was supportive, compassionate and professional. The lawyer handling our case had many years of experience and treated us as if we were his own family. Our experience was so good, and we became so close to all of the staff and all of the attorneys who assisted us, that we consider them our extended family and continue to send them our home baked gifts for the holidays. P.A.K.
I hired Stephen Bilkis and Associates to represent me on a legal matter a few months ago and am grateful for their swift action and resolution on my behalf. I was impressed with their professionalism and would recommend them to friends and family in a heartbeat. M.B.