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Manhattan Criminal Arraignment Lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | March 31, 2017
(Last Updated On: October 15, 2023)

Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 10:23 am

Manhattan Criminal Arraignment Lawyers – A Helpful Guide for the Accused

Getting arrested and going through the criminal justice system in Manhattan can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side during the arraignment process is crucial to protecting your rights and interests. This article provides a helpful overview of what to expect during a Manhattan criminal arraignment and why hiring a local defense attorney is so important.

What is Arraignment?

An arraignment is a criminal defendant’s first appearance in court following an arrest. It typically occurs within 24 hours of the arrest. The purpose of arraignment is for the defendant to be formally notified of the charges against them and to enter a plea (guilty or not guilty).

Arraignments in Manhattan take place at the New York City Criminal Court located at 100 Centre Street. There are arraignment hearings twice daily – from 9am to 5pm and then again from 5pm to 1am[1].

Defendants who have been arrested in Manhattan or issued Desk Appearance Tickets (DATs) for minor offenses will appear before a judge in one of the arraignment courtrooms.

What Happens During Arraignment

The typical events that occur during a Manhattan criminal arraignment are:

  • Defense Attorney Appears – If the defendant has hired a private defense attorney, that lawyer will be present to represent them. If not, a public defender will be appointed. Having a private attorney at this initial stage is highly recommended.
  • Charges Are Read – The charges against the defendant will be read aloud. The defense lawyer can waive a full reading if they have a copy of the complaint already.
  • Notices Are Served – The prosecutor provides notices about any statements the defendant made, identifications by witnesses, or other discovery materials.
  • Plea Is Entered – The defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. Most defendants plead not guilty at arraignment.
  • Bail Is Set – The judge decides whether or not to set bail and how much. Defense lawyers can argue for release without bail.
  • Next Court Date – A future court date is scheduled for the next steps in the case. This may be weeks or months away.
  • Possible Plea Deal – In some cases, a plea bargain may be offered and agreed upon during the arraignment.

Why You Need an Attorney at Arraignment

Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer represent you at your Manhattan arraignment is extremely beneficial for several reasons:

  • They can negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or a favorable plea bargain. Deals offered at arraignment often go away if declined.
  • They will argue to the judge for your release without bail or minimal bail being set.
  • They can work to get charges dismissed immediately if there are weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
  • They will preserve your rights, review discovery, and position your defense for later proceedings.
  • They are familiar with the prosecutors, judges, and court procedures.
  • They can explain what’s happening, manage your expectations, and reduce anxiety.
  • You have counsel present the moment your case formally begins.

Hiring an attorney early in the process ensures they can start working on your defense right away investigating facts, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing evidence. The outcome of your entire case can be shaped at arraignment.

Choosing the Right Manhattan Criminal Defense Lawyer

Not all defense attorneys handle arraignments equally. When researching Manhattan criminal lawyers, look for these important qualifications:

  • Local Experience – You want an attorney intimately familiar with the specific courts, judges, and district attorneys in Manhattan. This insider knowledge helps inform their strategy.
  • Staff Available 24/7 – Can they send an attorney to represent you at arraignment even if arrested late at night or on weekends? Larger firms with multiple attorneys have more flexibility.
  • Strong Negotiation Skills – Can they work out favorable plea deals or get charges dropped when possible? Their working relationship with prosecutors is key.
  • Trial Experience – If your case may go to trial, your arraignment lawyer should have litigation experience. This gives them added credibility when making arguments.
  • Affordable Fees – Rates should be fair and transparent. Beware lawyers charging extra fees just for arraignment.
  • Good Reviews – Check online reviews and talk to past clients. A lawyer’s reputation and track record matters.

Take time to research options and find the right attorney for your situation. This decision impacts how your entire case unfolds.

What if I Miss My Arraignment Date?

It is vital that you appear for your scheduled arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. If you miss arraignment entirely, the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. You can face additional criminal contempt charges.

If you anticipate that you may miss or be late for your arraignment, immediately contact your defense attorney. They can appear on your behalf and try to reschedule the hearing. But there are no guarantees.

The consequences for missing arraignment are severe. Do everything in your power to appear on the date scheduled. Work closely with counsel to avoid a warrant.

Possible Outcomes at Arraignment

There are several potential outcomes that can occur at arraignment:

  • Case Dismissed – If your lawyer can show legal flaws or evidentiary weaknesses, the judge may dismiss the charges. This is rare but does happen.
  • Plea Bargain – You may be offered a plea deal by the prosecution and accept it to resolve the case. Common deals are pleading to reduced charges or a recommended sentence.
  • Release on Own Recognizance – You are released until the next court date without needing to post bail. This generally occurs with minor charges.
  • Bail Set – The judge determines bail requirements for your release prior to trial. This depends on the charges and your background.
  • Held Without Bail – For serious felony charges, the judge can order you held in jail until the next court appearance.
  • Next Date Scheduled – Most cases won’t resolve entirely at arraignment. The next court date will be set for the case to proceed.

Talk to your Manhattan criminal attorney to know what to expect given the specifics of your case.

FAQs About Manhattan Arraignments

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about going through arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court:

How long does arraignment take?

Most arraignments take 15 minutes or less. The process is faster if you have an attorney present who can waive certain procedural steps.

What should I wear to arraignment?

Dress professionally and conservatively. For men, wear a suit and tie if possible. Do not wear shorts, ripped jeans, hats, sunglasses, or flip flops.

Can I get bail reduced at arraignment?

Yes, your defense lawyer will argue for reduced bail if the amount set by the judge seems excessive given the charges.

Should I accept a plea deal offered at arraignment?

Do not accept any plea deal without first discussing your options fully with counsel. Deals may improve in future negotiations.

Can I get the charges dropped completely?

It is possible but unlikely. Cases with weak evidence or technical flaws are sometimes dismissed at arraignment when argued effectively by an attorney.

What if I can’t afford a private lawyer?

If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender to represent you free of charge.


Going through arraignment and entering a plea is a critical first step after getting arrested in Manhattan. Having an experienced local criminal defense lawyer guide you through the process can have an enormous impact on the outcome. Do your research to hire the best legal representation you can afford. This investment will pay dividends throughout the life of your case all the way through to resolution.


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