The arraignment is your first opportunity to present your plea to a judge. You may plead "guilty" or "not guilty."
If you plead guilty, the judge will ask you some questions to be sure that you understand that you are giving up some of your constitutional rights. If the judge accepts your guilty plea, he or she will ask the Assistant District Attorney if there are any aggravating circumstances of the case, and will ask for the state's recommendation for a sentence. The judge will then impose a sentence.
It is very important that you understand your rights at arraignment. The State of Maine has an established a "Lawyer for the Day" program in Portland, which ensures that a private defense attorney is available on your arraignment date to discuss your case with you and provide you with free legal counsel during the arraignment sessions.
You must remember that this lawyer does NOT become your attorney through the remainder of your case, unless you make arrangements to retain him or her as counsel. He or she is in court for arraignments to ensure that all defendants may receive sufficient legal advice regarding their plea on that day.
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When you call the main number for the District Attorney's Office at 207-871-8384, your call will be screened by a receptionist to determine the correct staff person to assist you. Please provide enough detail in order that you may be directed to the proper division and the specific staff person who handles your type of question. If you are represented by an attorney, a prosecutor is ethically barred from speaking to you and you must remember that you have a right to remain silent. You must understand that if you say something about your case or the charges to a prosecutor it can be used against you.
The District Attorney represents the state, and everyone assigned to the District Attorney's Staff is in the prosecutorial role. The Assistant District Attorneys and staff personnel can discuss the process of how your case will be prosecuted through the court system, but they may not provide specific advice regarding how you should proceed.
If you are representing yourself in a civil or criminal matter, the ADA may discuss the facts of the case with you, but you need to remember that his or her role is adversarial to your interests. They can, however, give you an idea of the sentence recommendation, which they plan to request in the event you are found guilty.
If, however, you have retained legal counsel, either at your own expense or a court-appointed attorney, all communications must go through your attorney. This practice is required to protect your constitutional right to counsel and from self-incrimination.
At the arraignment, the Judge will explain your rights to you, and it is important to hear these rights before making any statements to an Assistant District Attorney. You will have an opportunity to talk to an Assistant District Attorney at your arraignment after you have heard your rights.
Police reports are considered investigatory material and as such are not pubic information prior to arraignment. In a case involving misdemeanor charges, the District Attorney’s office is required to supply copies of all discoverable material within 10 days of arraignment.
On felony charges, discovery is provided at arraignment.
The State of Maine operates a system of court-appointed attorneys rather than a public defender's office of the sort used by other states.
You must have a certain financial circumstances that allows the Court to deem you "indigent" to qualify for a court-appointed attorney. The charge(s) against you must have the potential of including a fine in excess of $500 or include some time in jail.
In the vast majority of circumstances, it is up to the defendant to file a Motion to Amend Bail in court to have the bail amount or conditions changed. You must file a Motion to Amend Bail in whichever court has your case either the District Court or Superior Court. The court may direct you to the District Attorney's Office to get our position on the motion before they allow you to file it.
A hearing date will be set no sooner than 7 days of the date the motion was filed. Notification will be sent to the District Attorney’s office and the District Attorney or an Assistant District Attorney must be present at the Bail Hearing.
The right to privacy does not allow representatives of the District Attorney's Office to discuss your case with family and/or friends.
Once a case has been resolved, the results of that case become a matter of public record. Until that point; however, the details remain with those directly involved in the prosecution of the case.
Yes. A subpoena is not an invitation to the court. In fact it is an order to be in Court, and if one does not abide by a subpoena, the Court could issue a warrant for that person's arrest. Though that is a tactic very rarely used, it is possible and therefore a person needs to be aware if he or she receives a subpoena.
In the vast majority of cases, only the prosecution can drop charges (just like only the prosecutors can bring criminal charges). Victims cannot simply "drop the charges." It's the same reason that if a person wants to "press charges," it is not up to them. The prosecutors are the only entity who brings charges and dismisses charges.
That said, if you are the complaining party, we want to receive input and your feelings about how you want us to proceed through this process because your input could be valuable to the final outcome of the case.
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