What happens after I am charged?
Usually, the law enforcement officer who charges you will give you your citation and release you without taking you to jail. The citation will contain the name of the charge and the number of the statute you have been charged with violating, as well as a date and time for you to appear in court. Your initial court appearance is called your “arraignment.” Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, because you were not taken to jail this is “just a ticket.” You have been charged with a crime and if you do not take it seriously, you could face serious consequences. If you are arrested in Tucson you will most likely be going to Tucson City Court or Pima County Consolidated Justice Court. It is wise to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
What happens at the arraignment?
The arraignment is your first court appearance. You will be in a large courtroom in with lots of other people who are there for their arraignments. The judge or the judge’s clerk will call your name, and you will walk up to the front of the courtroom. The judge will read to you each one of the charges against you and ask how you plead. You can plead “guilty,” “not guilty” or “no contest.” Instead of asking you how you plead, the judge might offer you the opportunity to participate in a diversion program (more on that below). The law enforcement officer(s) who gave you the citation will not be present and the facts of the case will not be discussed. If you haven’t already this would be a great time to contact an attorney.