A to Z ...and A Stands For Arraignment

Arraignment. Nope, it is not an Arrangement. (You'd be surprised how many people actually call it that)

Today begins the annual and awesome A to Z Blogging Challenge, created by none other than the dazzling, creative and awe-inspiring Arlee Bird.

Read more about the challenge, view the sign up list and see who the co-host are. Just click on the photo below and you will be directed to the official A to Z site.


My theme for the 2013 A- to- Z Blogging Challenge will again involve a breakdown of the complex legal system, including, but not limited to: Courtrooms, Courtroom Procedure, Police Interrogations, Crimes, Criminal Procedure, Crime Scene Investigation and more. In the simplest terms, this month will be a walk through of the criminal court system as a reference for crime friction writers. Hopefully, you will find interesting, helpful and unusual tidbits and practical information for writers of all types of Crime Fiction: Mystery/Suspense, Thrillers, Romance/Suspense, and more. The information will benefit both novelist and screenwriters. 


This information is provided as entertainment purposes only and is not legal advice.


What is an Arraignment?




The arraignment is not the first step in the criminal court process, but depending on your jurisdiction, it will likely be the first time you appear in court.

At the arraignment, you (the character in your novel) will be formally advised of the charges leveled against you.  This is the first opportunity for the accused to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Because it is so early in the procedure and the state most likely will not be aware of all of the circumstances, surrounding the alleged crime, they in turn will be unable to provide the accused, much in the form of discovery. 

A person accused of a felony, may not be permitted to enter a guilty plea at this time, but because of the over crowded prisons, jails and criminal dockets, the prosecutor is often more than willing to dispose of a misdemeanor charge at the arraignment.

This is not your actual trial. This is not the time to fight the charges against you. It is a basic hearing to determine if a trial will be necessary.

The biggest mistake that people make is believing that they can or should handle this simple hearing alone, without the benefit of an attorney. 

Bad idea!


Many people are new to the legal system and have no idea what is happening at this juncture. Regardless of what the charges are, you (your fictional character) should always retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, prior to the arraignment. The earlier you retain a lawyer, the greater the odds of obtaining a final disposition, favorable to the accused. An experienced attorney will review the evidence that the state has against you and will advise you of your legal defenses. Even if your character committed the crime for which she is accused, a defense attorney knows what to look for and can spot areas to challenge the state's case. Perhaps your fictional character was arrested without probable cause or other procedures were not accurately and adequately followed. 
"But my character already made a full confession, on tape"
You say!

So what. All the more reason to retain the services of a skilled attorney. Perhaps the police violated her rights, failed to read him or her, their Miranda warnings...Maybe your character stated that she wanted an attorney and the police did not immediately stop questioning her. If that's the case then the confession is inadmissible and any evidence obtained from information gained during the illegal confession, may also be thrown out as fruit of the poisonous tree.

The arraignment is a time when many unrepresented defendants make the mistake of a quick~ hurried admission of guilt.

Welcome to my blog and to the 2013- Blogging form A-Z Challenge. Click on the link below and it will take you to the sign up list so you can visit others who are participating.
A-to-Z Participants

My Bonus A-Z Bucket List

A.


Obtain representation by my top, favorite most sought after Literary Agent

Visit Alder Cay
See the Aurora Borealis
Check back tomorrow for my "Letter~B~Post"

Twitter hash tag: #AtoZChallenge


43 comments:

  1. Only an attorney knows all the legal loopholes!

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  2. Wow, I kinda wish i was writing a crime thriller now, but I'll for sure keep coming by, you never know when bits of wisdom will come in handy. Thanks for the info!!

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  3. Hey Melissa! Your blog is amazing! This is such an interesting theme for the challenge, I know I'm going to learn so much this month :)

    Can't wait for tomorrow's! Hugs from Nikki - thelittlenordiccabin.blogspot.com

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  4. Yay! I really enjoyed learning about the legal system last year's challenge, looking forward to learning more this year.

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  5. These posts are really interesting to me. Especially because I'm a mystery writer.

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  6. Knowing the system well enough also allows you to create loopholes and twists in your story without it sounding unrealistic. Excellent post, Melissa. (:

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  7. I love this theme! Thank you for sharing, Melissa. :D

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  8. Gr8 idea for the A to Z challenge. / will ck back am in the process of working on a crime/suspense
    thanks for your visit

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  9. Oh, this is great. I write crime drama so I'll be back every day to gather little goodies I can use.

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  10. Excuse the second post. I'm just trying to get Google to use my name.

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  11. What a wonderful helpful theme. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us! I look forward to reading the rest of the month.

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  12. Melissa, we met last year at the A-Z when you took issue with my Jury Duty post. You may not remember. Anyway, I will be following your posts for sure as I love all things involving the legal system. I have been nominated as a Honorary Couch Attorney for watching all L&O and CSI episodes. I have cracked many cases. But as I said last year, if I need an attorney you will get a harried email from me to come quick. You are going to do some Latin for us aren't you? I think V might be my favorite. Great theme!

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  13. I don't really know much about the legal system, but it will be nice to learn more about it :> Hoping that I'll never need to use it in a real life situation, though.

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  14. This will be an interesting read for me, because I really am interested in the basics writers need to know about the legal system! Great theme!!
    http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

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  15. What a useful theme! Now I know where to come for the facts.

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  16. I love it: I see pink, read "criminal defense lawyer," and my brain starts to trip...


    Keep it up! I look forward to following you through the rest of A to Z!

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  17. I write chick lit rather than crime but if my characters ever end up in court, I know where to come!

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  18. Cool. Thanks for visiting. I love reading chick lit, especially during the summer, at the beach.

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  19. I know, my black, white and pink theme, screams anything but lawyer. In every aspect of my life, from being a mom, room parent, lawyer, prosecutor and other areas, it seems I have always had to have everything in neutral colors (my suits, nail polish, shoes, handbags etc.). So, this is the one thing I thought I could add a splash of my favorite colors to, without it causing me any problems. I love colors, especially pink. Thanks for visiting

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  20. I am glad. If I can be of any help, in the future, let me know. These post will be relatively short, but if you ever have any detailed questions, I'd be happy to help out.

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  21. Good attitude. I hope you never have to use it in real life either. It is never pretty.

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  22. Hi Chuck. Now I remember. Uh-oh. Thanks for following again. I do, actually have a couple of planned post that contain Latin. I am glad you are back. I hope I don't offend you this year.

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  23. O.K. I hope my comment system is not shutting people out again. I tried to switch back to blogger comments, but it wouldn't work. I am an idiot when to comes to computer issues. I will have to hire a professional to fix this mess I have made.

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  24. Great. I would love to hear more about your wip. I love crime/suspense.

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  25. Thanks Carrie. I love your theme. I gave it a shout out on my B blog post, today.

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  26. Thanks and of course I feel the same about your blog post. For the challenge, I am trying to keep them short. I love all of your post. You really put in the time and research. I especially liked your post on firearms that I read a while back.

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  27. Well, you can write on for your next book. Thanks for stopping by.

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  28. Word to that. Keep it up, and I'll keep coming back.

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  29. Chuck, if you visit again, please leave a link to your blog. I can't get to it from my Disqus comments if you don't. I tried searching back through my google friend connect for your photo and I will try again. I know I have been to your blog many times, but for some reason, I am having a hard time getting there now. Please leave a link or the name of your blog or your full name. Or you can email it to me at sugarlaw67@yahoo.com. Thank you very much. I really want to visit your blog.

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  30. Good stuff, Melissa. Different legal system here, but there are some similarities. In fact, I'm getting ideas about a character being locked up abroad.

    J.L. Campbell at Jamaican Kid Lit

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  31. Great advice and this topic is awesome. A few characters in my novel have issues with the law, so this is going to be so helpful. Don't worry, my MC's parents definitely had a lawyer at their arraignment.

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If you don't have anything nice to say ... then sit by me. Kidding. Please share your thoughts. I love comments. I dislike stalkers & trolls. If you want to ask me a direct question, please email me: sugarlaw13 at live dot com

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