Top Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Arraignment?

The answer is yes, if you want the best outcome. If you are looking for a lawyer for your arraignment, it helps to understand some of the basics facts about what an arraignment entails. First let’s answer the question, What Is An Arraignment?

What Is the Process That Leads to An Arraignment and Do I Need a Lawyer for my Arraignment?

Your arraignment is one of the first dates you will appear in court. It is a court hearing during which the charges against you will be formally read. The judge reads out the charges and asks if you understand them. If you don’t have an attorney and can’t afford one, the court will appoint a public defender.

An arraignment is a formal reading of charges that happens after you have been arrested or received a summons to appear in court or after a grand jury have brought an indictment against you.

If you have been arrested, the arraignment often coincides with a bail hearing. It may also involve a dangerousness hearing if you are considered a danger to the public. In Massachusetts, the arraignment should happen as soon after the arrest as reasonably possible, usually one business day. The judge will then make a decision about bail at your hearing. At this point you will then have the option to post bail and be released. You have the right to bail unless you are charged with murder.

If you have received a summons to appear in court you will receive a notice in the mail with your charges and a date on which you must appear in court.

If you have been accused of a misdemeanor you are entitled to a “show cause” hearing during which a District Court clerk magistrate decides whether the evidence against you amounts to “probable cause” that you committed a crime. Once the magistrate has decided that the charges against you can be filed, you will have to appear in court for your arraignment.

If you have been accused of a felony the process to decide whether to bring charges against you is more involved. A grand jury of your peers reviews the evidence and returns an indictment if they agree there is probable cause you committed the crime. If you are indicted you will then have to appear at your arraignment during which your charges will be formally read. If you don’t show up at your arraignment date a warrant may be issued.

What to Expect At An Arraignment

Arraignment hearings in Massachusetts are not open to the public. During an arraignment you are no longer addressed as “the accused,” but instead “the defendant.” You may have your attorney present at your Massachusetts arraignment. If your sentence includes jail time and you can’t afford an attorney you will be assigned a court appointed attorney. You can speak to your attorney either before or after the proceedings. It is important to have an attorney to counsel and defend you and protect your rights.

When you arrive in court a court officer will direct you to a microphone where you will stand once your case number has been announced. The judge will read out the charges and the clerk will enter a not guilty plea on your behalf or you will be asked how you want to plead. You may plead guilty, not guilty and “no contest.”

If your charges are less serious it’s possible that your case could be resolved at your arraignment. You may be given the option to discuss possible resolutions with prosecutors. This is best done with an attorney present. Before you plead guilty you can review these options. No matter what, however, you still have a constitutional right to a criminal trial.

At Dhar Law, LLP, we can help you with your arraignment and assist you through the arraignment process. We always assume our clients to be innocent until proven guilty. We represent you against highly trained Prosecutors and District Attorneys, whose primary motivation is to obtain a conviction and penalize you.

Our criminal defense attorney’s goal is to build the best defense in your case so you can minimize or even expunge the charges against you. Sometimes being a first-time offender can work in your favor as part of a defense strategy. Many people with no criminal history obtain a positive outcome and walk away with few or no penalties.


Have you or a family member been charged or arrested? It’s important not to make mistakes early on in your case. Download our PDF on the top 3 things to do to help your defense or if you have been arrested by the State Police or FBI or you are the subject of an FBI Arrest Warrant.

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Heading up the firm, Vikas Dhar is widely recognized as a leader in the New England legal community. An accomplished business litigator and a “Top 40 Under 40” criminal defense attorney, he has also been honored as a New England Super Lawyer/Rising Star in the area of White-Collar Criminal Defense for each of the past six years by Boston Magazine.

I have the power and the skill to be able to save people from themselves. I can be your guide during the darkness. I can hold your hand and navigate you out of the darkness into the light.

— Vikas Dhar
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