You have a right to be arraigned
without unnecessary delay - usually within two court days - after being arrested.
You will appear before a Municipal or a District Court Judge who will tell you
officially of the charges against you at your first arraignment. At the arraignment,
an attorney may be appointed for you if you cannot afford one, and bail can
be raised or lowered. You also can ask to be released on O.R., even if bail
was previously set.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you can plead guilty or not guilty
at the arraignment. Or, if the court approves, you can plead nolo contendere,
meaning that you will not contest to the charges. Legally this is the same as
a guilty plea, but it cannot be used against you in a non-criminal case, unless
the charge can be punished as a felony.
Before pleading guilty, you need to find out if your county has any drug
diversion programs. Under these programs, instead of fining you or sending you
to jail, the court may order you to get counseling, which can result in dismissal
of the charges if you complete the counseling.
If misdemeanor charges are not dropped, a trial will be held later in Municipal
or District court. If you are charged with a felony, however, and the charges
are not dropped, the next step is a preliminary hearing.