If you find yourself charged with a crime, there are certain hearings that must happen in every case. Regardless if a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor marijuana case or a felony aggravated battery case, everyone must go through a similar procedure. For misdemeanor cases, you may be arraigned at your very first court date, for felony cases there are a few additional steps before you can be arraigned. Here are the important laws when it comes to arraignment on criminal charges in Kansas.

The Case Formally Begins With The Filing Of The Complaint With The Court:
Commencement of prosecution. (1) Unless otherwise provided by law, a prosecution shall be commenced by filing a complaint with a magistrate. A copy of the complaint shall forthwith be supplied to the county attorney of the county and a copy thereof shall be furnished to the defendant or said defendant’s attorney upon request. 

What Happens At The Arraignment Hearing?
Arraignment. (a) Arraignment shall be conducted in open court and shall consist of reading the complaint, information or indictment to the defendant or stating to the defendant the substance of the charge and calling upon the defendant to plead thereto. The defendant shall be given a copy of the indictment or information before the defendant is called upon to plead. Except as provided in subsection (b), if the crime charged is a felony, the defendant must be personally present for arraignment; if a misdemeanor, with the approval of the court, the defendant may appear by counsel. The court may direct any officer who has custody of the defendant to bring the defendant before the court to be arraigned.

(b) Arraignment may be conducted by two-way electronic audio-video communication between the defendant and the judge in lieu of personal presence of the defendant or the defendant’s counsel in the courtroom in the discretion of the court. The defendant may be accompanied by the defendant’s counsel during such arraignment. The defendant shall be informed of the defendant’s right to be personally present in the courtroom during arraignment. Exercising the right to be present shall in no way prejudice the defendant.

(c) The court shall ensure that the defendant has been processed and fingerprinted pursuant to K.S.A. 21-2501, and 21-2501a and amendments thereto.

When Does The Arraignment Take Place?
Time of arraignment. (1) A defendant charged with a felony in an information shall appear for arraignment upon such information in the district court not later than the next required day of court after the order of the magistrate binding over the defendant for trial, unless a later time is requested or consented to by the defendant and approved by the court or unless continued by order of the court.

(2) A defendant charged with a felony in an indictment shall appear for arraignment upon such indictment in the district court not later than the next required day of court after arrest upon a warrant issued on the indictment, unless a later time is requested or consented to by the defendant and approved by the court or unless continued by order of the court.

(3) If the preliminary examination is waived, arraignment shall be conducted at the time originally scheduled for the preliminary examination if a judge of the district court is available, subject to assignment pursuant to K.S.A. 20-329, and amendments thereto, to conduct the arraignment.

(4) The district judges in every judicial district shall provide by order for one or more required days of court each month in each county of the district, at which time a district judge will be personally present at the courthouse for the purpose of conducting arraignments.

So How Does Arraignment Really Work?
At every arraignment, a couple of things will happen.

  1. You will be present. (Unless it is a misdemeanor charge and the judge excuses your presence)
  2. The judge will read the charges out loud to you. (You can waive the reading if you choose)
  3. The judge will ask you how you wish to plea to the charges.
  4. You will get a copy of the complaint. (Document filed listing your charges)
  5. The judge will ask you if you can afford a lawyer and may appoint one to work on your case.
  6. The judge will give you a new court date to keep the case moving.
  7. The judge will set a bond or hear arguments on bond and bond conditions.

How your arraignment is conducted and when it is conducted depends on a couple of different things. What type of crime you are charged with; a felony or a misdemeanor? What court you are charged in; municipal court or district court? When did you hire your lawyer; before your first court date or after? Below are a couple of common scenarios.

If You Are Charged With A Felony: If you are charged with a felony you will not be arraigned at your first court date. When you are charged with a felony you are entitled to a preliminary examination of the case before you will ever be arraigned on felony charges. At that preliminary examination, the State must prove that probable causes exists that a crime was committed and that you committed that crime. This all must be proven before the judge will arraign you on felony charges. If the judge finds that the State has meet their probable cause burden, then the judge will “bind over” the defendant. This is just way of saying that the State can go forward prosecuting you for the crime charged. Usually immediately after you are, “bound over” the judge will perform the arraignment.

If You Are Charged With A Misdemeanor In District Court: If you are in district court with a misdemeanor case the judge will arraign you on your first court date. You are not entitled to a preliminary examination like you are with a felony case. If you have a lawyer before your first court date, then your lawyer will do nearly all of the talking in front of the judge. Your lawyer will address bond conditions, they will accept the complaint on your behalf and waive the formal reading, then enter a not guilty plea on your behalf and get a new court date. In some instances, your lawyer may request that further court appearances by you be waived and your lawyer be allowed to appear on your behalf.

If You Are Charged With A Municipal Court Case: If you are charged with a case in municipal court you are charged with a misdemeanor crime. Like discussed above you are not entitled to a preliminary examination on a misdemeanor case so you will not go through that process. However, a difference between municipal court and district court is that you may or may not be arraigned at your first court appearance. Whether you are arraigned at your first appearance largely depends on when you hire a lawyer. In most municipal court cases a person accused of a crime will be issued a ticket with an initial court date. If the person hires a lawyer before that initial court date they will most likely not have to attend that first court date because their lawyer will go for them and therefore they will not be arraigned. They may never be formally arraigned depending on what happens with the case. If the person doesn’t hire a lawyer before their initial court date and goes to court alone, then the judge will go ahead and arraign them in most cases.

If you have questions with regards to an upcoming arraignment hearing feel free to contact the Johnson county criminal defense lawyers at Roth Davies, LLC for a free consultation.