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Criminal Docket - Frequently Asked Questions
[Civil] [Criminal] [Family] [Juvenile]

1.        Must an attorney who enters an appearance for a defendant in advance of the arraignment attend the arraignment with the client or may the client go without the attorney to receive the trial date?     

    The arraignment is a critical stage of the proceeding where the court will review the case for a trial date consistent with the schedules of counsel for the government and defendant, consider trial length based on information from counsel and attempt to resolve the case, if possible.  Therefore, the presence of counsel, who has entered an appearance prior to the arraignment, is required at the event.

2    How do I file a plead, raising the issues of competency and/or criminal responsibility of my client?  

    Counsel is encouraged to present the issue of competency and/or responsibility, as early in the proceedings as possible.  If such a plea is noted, counsel should provide a copy of the pleading to the law clerk for the judge in charge, who will arrange for an immediate evaluation of the defendant by the Medical Office of the court.  Failure to provide the judge in charge with a copy of the pleading contemporaneous of the filing will result in a delay of the evaluation and perhaps the trial.

3.    My client was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense and I desire to file a motion for the transfer of jurisdiction. What should I do?     

    Counsel should follow the Rules and present the motion within 30 days of either the first appearance of the defendant before the court or the filing of an appearance by counsel. Upon filing the motion for transfer, the attorney should provide the law clerk for the judge in charge with a copy of the pleading, so an evaluation can be prepared.

4.    What do I do in the event a conflict develops in my trial schedule and I find myself committed to more than one court at the same time?

     First, it is the obligation of counsel to avoid accepting a trial date that conflicts with another date previously set or accepting a case with a preset trial date that conflicts with his schedule.

    Counsel should notify both courts immediately and the courts will determine which case should have a priority for trial.  It is not within the province of counsel to summarily determine which court to attend.

5.      I thought I had the money to hire a private attorney but things did not work out like I planned.  My trial date is approaching.  What should I do?   

     An attorney is very important to assist you with the serious charges that have been brought against you.  Only you can protect that right.  If you believe you may not have the money to hire a private attorney, do not wait until the last moment to discover that fact.  You should evaluate your situation immediately and determine realistically whether you have the money to pay an attorney’s fee.  If you think you cannot pay an attorney, you may qualify for the services of an assistant public defender.  To do that you must apply to the Office of the Public Defender and follow its procedures for qualification.  THIS MUST BE DONE AT LEAST 10 WORKING DAYS (EXCLUDING WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS) BEFORE YOUR TRIAL DATE.  If you fail to follow this procedure, the judge could decide that you gave up your right to counsel by inaction.