Arraignments in South Carolina occur in Federal Court. An arraignment is an initial or first court appearance. It is the first court appearance you will go to for your federal case. An arraignment in federal court is very similar to a bond hearing in state or lower level courts
How does it work?
During an arraignment, you will be in a courtroom and will appear in front of a federal magistrate judge. At that time, the Judge will either read to you what you are charged with from the charging document, called an indictment. If you and your attorney are already aware of these charges, you can let the judge know you waive the reading of the indictment. This means the Judge will not read the indictment to you. You will receive a copy of your indictment. You and your attorney will sign a written waiver confirming that you received a copy of the indictment or information about the crimes alleged.
The purpose of an arraignment is to let you know what you are being charged with. In other words, this hearing lets you know what type of crime the Federal Government thinks you have committed and some details of why they believe this occurred.
An arraignment occurs long before your trial begins. In fact, your arraignment can be months or even a year prior to your trial. If you have already been arrested and are in jail for the crime, your arraignment will be within a short period of time after your arrest.
An important part of your arraignment will be when the Judge asks you or your attorney how you wish to plead. This means the judge is asking you, did you do it or not? A typical, common response is to plead “not guilty” at this stage of the proceedings. Once this is established, the Judge will schedule future court hearings.
If you do not have an attorney at your arraignment, the judge will ask you whether you are going to hire your own, private attorney. The other option is to find out whether you qualify for a federal public defender. If you are unsure of whether you have the money to hire a private attorney. At your arraignment the Judge will determine whether you can be granted a bond. The purpose of a bond is to insure the court you will show up for court.
The Judge may impose restrictions on your bond, such as not leaving the state, no contact with the alleged victim, stay out of trouble and not be arrested, house arrest, and/or electronic monitoring. The Judge may deny your bond. The Judge may release you on a “PR” bond, which means you do not have to put up any money to be released.
Payments on federal bonds are different than state bonds. Please call and ask us how we can help!