If the police arrest you, they will take you to the precinct and complete the arrest formalities. Once the arrest formalities are complete, you will be brought before a judge for “arraignment,” at which normally bail (if any) is set and you will be formally charged, informed of your rights, asked to plead guilty or not guilty, and in serious cases asked if you desire a preliminary hearing. This works well if you have been arrested during the day. You will be brought before a judge before the courts close for the day. So if you have been arrested after court hours or late at night, you will need to spend the entire night in police custody. But given the number of arrests made every day on New York and because of the State Supreme Court ruling in 1991 that set a 24 hour deadline for all arraignments, arraignments are held in the Criminal Court even after regular court hours. Presently arraignments are held 365 days a year from 9 am till 1 am.
If you have been arrested, contact an experienced criminal attorney to represent you at the arraignment. Never adopt a wait and watch approach. A night arraignment is no different from a regular arraignment. An arraignment is not an administrative process. It is part of the criminal procedure conducted under New York Criminal Procedure § 170.10. It is the first step in the court process. What you do at your arraignment can affect your case.
The Criminal Court arraigns defendants charged with misdemeanors, felonies and some traffic violations. At the arraignment, the judge will decide whether you should be granted bail or released on own cognizance. In case of serious charges, the judge can deny bail and send you to jail. Bail is not automatic. Even if the charge is not a serious one, there is no guarantee that you will be released. When deciding on the amount of bail, the judge will consider your criminal history, your times with the community and the seriousness of the charge.
At the arraignment you will be informed of the charges against you. You must enter a guilty or not guilty plea. Never assume that pleading guilty is the best way forward. The penalty may only be a minor fine but a guilty plea will lead to conviction and the conviction will appear on your record. An experienced criminal defense attorney will enter a not guilty plea for you. Remember, the prosecution must prove that you are guilty as charged. You don’t have to prove your innocence. Once you plead not guilty, the court will set a date for trial. If you plead guilty, the court will fix a date for sentencing. If you have been charged with federal crime, you will be produced in one of the two federal district courts in New York for arraignment. The arraignment for a federal crime is conducted according to Title IV, Rule 10 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.