Short Answer: If you have the right lawyer, nothing. In fact, if you have retained an attorney, whether it is us or someone else, you can waive your appearance at the arraignment hearing and be excused from even appearing in court.
Long Answer: Arraignments in general are a traditional initial court setting in criminal cases that has history from a time when not everyone could read or write. Often times, a town in the 1800's would only have a few citizens that could read. The local barber, postman, and sometimes the sheriff could read court summons to local citizens who were ordered to appear before the court.
However, the law requires that the defendant understand the charges against them, so the first appearance in front of the judge was really to inform the citizens what they were charged with, and whether they were going to plead guilty to the charge, or not guilty. It seems simple, but that is still, essentially, what happens to this day in criminal courts.
If you have been recently arrested or charged with a state or federal crime, your first appearance in court on those charges will be at an arraignment. But, as in most courts in Texas, the misdemeanor and felony court in Tyler will allow you to waive your appearance, in writing, if you have retained a lawyer.
If you have a consultation with my firm and you decide to hire us, the first thing we will have you sign is a waiver of arraignment. We will file this waiver on your behalf so that you do not have to go to court on that day. We enter an appearance as your attorneys of record and then we request your discovery so we can review it as soon as possible. Lastly, and most importantly, we enter a plea of NOT GUILTY on all of your charges so the court knows that we intend on setting your case for a trial.
If you are planning on hiring a lawyer, try to do so at least three days before you have to appear in court on your arraignment so your attorney has time to get all of the required documentation on file so you do not have to appear. This will save you from having to sit at the courthouse. It will also save you some embarrassment by having your charges read out loud by the Judge in a room full of folks who didn't waive their appearance.
To be clear, you must appear at your arraignment unless you properly waive your appearance. Not having a lawyer waive your arraignment properly could resort in you having to appear, or worse, not appearing when you thought you were excused and then getting a warrant for your arrest for failing to show up.
If you have an upcoming arraignment in your criminal case, call me and I will let you know what can be done in more detail so that you do not have to appear at that hearing. 903-999-1234
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