What Is an Arraignment?

Maine Attorney John Webb

 

Disclaimer: Welcome to the Webb Law Firm OUI Podcast. This podcast does not create an attorney – client relationship. You will not become a client until a written contract is agreed to between the host and listener. This podcast conveys only general legal information. Every legal situation is different due to changing laws and the facts of the case. If you have a question, do not hesitate to call us at (207) 283-6400.

SO TODAY we’re going to have a general discussion about arraignments. Just to review, in Maine, class A, B, & C crimes are felony crimes that are punishable by a year or more in prison. Class D & E crimes are punishable up to 364 days in prison and are misdemeanors. Felony crimes include but are not limited to Aggravated Assault, Gross Sexual Assault, Arson, and Manslaughter, just to name a few. Misdemeanors are Domestic Violence Assault, Operating Under the Influence, “Simple” Assault, Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, and the like.

Below that are Civil Violations which, since they are not criminal offenses, do not include jail time, and are subject to a fine, penalty or other sanction, or to secure the forfeiture of possessions or money that may be decreed by the law. These include, but are not limited to, traffic violations, Illegal Transportation of Liquor by a Minor and some Fish & Game violations. Please remember, there are many civil violations that carry a license suspension upon admission or a finding that the violation was committed after a full hearing in court.

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (also known as BMV), upon receipt of the court record from the clerk, will send out a notice of suspension. If you fail to call us prior to dealing with your violation, don’t hesitate to call us when you receive the notice of suspension from the BMV. It may not be too late. There is nothing worse than going to court, paying the fine and thinking your matter is complete and all wrapped up and then two weeks later you get a letter from the BMV saying your license is suspended for 30 days or 60 days what have you. If you get that letter give us a call.

If you are charged with a civil violation, you’ll be given a summons that will either instruct you to come to court on a certain day, or in some cases you will be given the option to admit to the offense and mail in a fine. AGAIN, please be careful, you want to make sure that you are 100% aware of the consequences that could flow from that admission. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime, and you are not arrested but just given a summons, the summons will give you an arraignment date to appear in court.

Please remember, that the Maine Rules of the Unified Criminal Procedure allow attorneys to enter their appearance and a not guilty plea on your behalf in misdemeanor cases. That is NOT true of a felony case; in a felony case your personal appearance is always required. In some limited cases, even when an attorney has entered their appearance and the not guilty plea in a misdemeanor, the clerk may still require your personal appearance should there be a motion by the state (meaning the District Attorney’s Office) to amend or in some cases institute bail in cases where no bail was set.

If you are charged with a felony, it is always best if your lawyer has the opportunity to speak with the prosecutor before the arraignment date to discuss cash bail and any conditions of release that may be sought. This is extremely important; bail will guide some aspects of your life for months if not a year or more in some cases. There is a huge difference between not having bail conditions and bail conditions that subject your body, your vehicle, your possessions and your home to search by law enforcement without a reason. There is a big difference between no use or possession of alcohol, NO excessive use of alcohol, OR possession of alcohol for work purposes only (bartenders, waitstaff, and convenience store cashiers, for example). If you have bail conditions in ANY case, speak to us about those conditions and let’s talk about whether they can be amended or removed altogether.

In any case involving a civil violation, misdemeanor or felony, following the arraignment your next trip to court would involve the Dispositional Conference day. We will talk about the Dispositional Conference in another podcast. Please remember, in most jurisdictions but not all, when you go to court after you’ve entered the denial in a Violations Bureau matter such as a speeding ticket, failure to wear a seat belt and excessive tire noise for example, your next court date will involve negotiating with the trooper or law enforcement officer that gave you the ticket or a representative from her or his department. That representative will most likely be a Court Officer, who may be a law enforcement officer or civilian representative. Before you deal with that Violations Bureau ticket, make sure you know how many points you have on your license and what collateral consequences may flow from an admission to that ticket.

That completes our overview on how arraignments work in the State of Maine.

Thank you for listening. Remember, if you have a question, never hesitate to call us at (207) 283-6400 for a free consultation. Our free consultations can be done over the phone or in person at the office. Again, thank you for listening.