If you were arrested in Rhode Island, you likely were “charged” with a crime by the arresting police department. This charge against you is likely in the form of a criminal complaint. However, you haven’t been formally charged at that point. The formal process of charging a defendant with a crime is known as an “arraignment.” Your first court appearance in RI District Court is called an arraignment. The arraignment is a formal criminal proceeding in which the defendant appears in court, informed of the offense charged in the criminal complaint, and asked to enter a plea of guilty, nolo contendere, or not guilty.
The vast majority of pleas at the arraignment stage are “not guilty.” Entering a plea of not guilty is advisable in the instance that a defendant has yet to speak with an attorney or has yet to fully consider the effects of the plea. You can always plead “guilty” or “nolo” later, but absent extreme circumstances, you cannot retract your “guilty” plea. By pleading “not guilty” at arraignment, you allow yourself time to consult with an attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you of your rights.
Call our attorneys today for a free consultation. We’re happy to review your case, advise you of your rights, and appear in court on your behalf. Don’t make a decision that can affect the rest of your life without consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney.