The purpose of an arraignment is to tell a Vermont defendant what they are charged with and why they are charged with it.
I have practiced criminal defense in four states and arraignment process varies in each. This blog post is specific to arraignments in Vermont. I am often asked by fearful clients “what is going to happen at my arraignment?” The answer is: very little will actually happen, but the client and I do get a very useful roadmap of the criminal defense journey ahead.
Arraignments Tell You What Your Charge(s) Is.
The fundamental purpose of an arraignment is to tell a defendant, in open court, what they are charged with. In other words, what law it is alleged that a defendant has broken. For specific definitions of Vermont court terms click here.
Arraignments Let You Know What the Maximum Penalty Is, If You Are Ultimately Convicted of the Crime You Are Charged With.
This part is often terrifying for my clients. We receive a sheet of information that alleges what they are charged with and IN ALL CAPS it will communicate the MAXIMUM POSSIBLE PENALTY FOR A CONVICTION. That is not a subtle way for the State to tell you what they think you deserve nor is it even a likely potential outcome in the vast majority of criminal cases, rather it is a statutorily mandate requirement to inform a defendant of the very worst possible outcome she could face if she were convicted of the particular crime that is charged.
Arraignments Tell Us What Evidence The State Intends to Use Against You.
An arraignment tells the defendant and her attorney why she is charged with the crime she is charged with. In other words, the State must say why you are charged with the crime. The State must disclose what facts it believes support the accusation.
Beginning at your arraignment an experienced Vermont criminal defense attorney can help you understand d the allegations against you and build a defense to those allegations.