Arraignment in the Court of Common Pleas
What is an Arraignment?
Prior Plea Agreement
What is Bail?
Types of Bail:
What is Plea Bargaining?
What is an arraignment?
All prosecutions are brought on behalf of the State
of Delaware (the "State") and the individual charged with the motor vehicle
offense(s) or criminal charge(s) is the defendant.
An arraignment is the defendant’s initial appearance before the Court.
At the arraignment, the defendant will be informed of the charges against
him/her. The defendant or his/her attorney will be given a copy of the
Information with the charges set forth on it as filed by the Attorney
General of the State, and will be advised of the right to a trial by a
judge or by jury.
The Deputy Attorney General may offer the defendant a plea
bargain, but he/she is under no obligation to accept the offer. The
defendant will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The defendant
is presumed to be innocent unless, and until, the State proves his/her
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When a reasonable doubt exists, the case
will be decided in the defendant’s favor.
If the defendant wishes to enter a plea of guilty, he/she is admitting
that they committed the offense with which they are charged. The defendant
is also giving up the right to a trial and the right to remain silent.
Before accepting the guilty plea, the defendant must complete a guilty
plea form and the judicial officer may question the defendant to make
sure that he/she understands the consequences of the plea, and that the
plea is being made freely and not because he/she is afraid of pleading
"not guilty." If the defendant believes he/she has not violated the law
or has a defense to the charge, he/she should plead not guilty. If in
doubt, the defendant should plead not guilty. The defendant is not given
a heavier sentence if convicted at trial after a not guilty plea.
If the defendant wishes to enter a plea of guilty and the judicial officer
accepts the plea; the next step is sentencing. The judicial officer may
decide to immediately sentence the defendant, or may schedule the sentencing
for another day after ordering a presentence
If the defendant wishes to enter a plea of not guilty at arraignment,
the clerk will schedule the case for trial by a judge or by jury depending
on what the defendant chooses. Even though the defendant has pleaded not
guilty at arraignment, he/she is permitted to plead guilty at any time
prior to trial.
If the defendant does not wish to be arraigned in open Court and wishes
to plead not guilty, he/she may file a Prior Plea Form, which may be obtained
from the Clerk of the Court or from an attorney.
Prior Plea Agreement
Complete the Prior Plea Agreement form to enter a NOT GUILTY plea to the charge(s) without appearing in Court for arraignment.
What is bail?
Bail is the amount of money a defendant must post to
be released from custody until their trial is heard. The purpose of bail
is to ensure the defendant’s appearance at all court trials and hearings.
Once the defendant’s trial has concluded, the bail is returned to the
individual who posted it. If the defendant fails to appear, he/she risks
having the bail forfeited.
The judicial officer will weigh many factors when deciding the amount
of bail. Some of these factors include the risk of flight by the defendant,
the type of alleged crime, how long the defendant has lived in Delaware,
the safety of the community and the defendant’s criminal history (if any).
Bail may be imposed with certain conditions, such as, a no contact order
with the alleged victim in the case.
Types of bail:
Own Recognizance Bail
The judicial officer may release a defendant on
his/her own recognizance, also known as "OR" bail. The defendant
is not required to pay any money, but must sign a bond guaranteeing
their appearance for future court appearances.
If a judicial officer imposes an unsecured bond,
the defendant must sign a bond guaranteeing his/her appearance for
future court appearances. If the defendant does not appear, the
Court will require the defendant to pay a designated amount of money.
The defendant must pay the Court a designated
amount of money or post security in the amount of the bail in order
to be released. This security can be in the form of cash or property
and may be posted by the defendant or by someone on his/her behalf,
e.g., a relative or a bail bondsman.
The defendant, or someone on his/her behalf, must
pay the Court a designated amount of money in order to be released.
The defendant, and the co-signer, if any, must sign the bond that
guarantees the defendant’s appearance at future court appearances.
What is plea bargaining?
A plea bargain is a negotiated agreement between the
defendant and the Deputy Attorney General on behalf of the State to dispose
of a criminal case. It often involves the defendant agreeing to plead
guilty to lesser charges, or a guilty plea to some of the charges in exchange
for other charges being dropped. When a charge is dropped by the State,
the Deputy Attorney General will enter a nolle prosequi in the case, meaning
that the State is choosing not to prosecute the charge at this time. It
may also involve the defendant agreeing to plead guilty as charged, with
the prosecution recommending leniency to the sentencing judge. The Court
is not involved in negotiating the plea bargain, other than the judge
accepting the plea when it is offered.
The purpose of plea bargaining is to save the time of going to trial.
The Court is also saved the burden of conducting a trial on each defendant
before the Court. The defendant may wish to save the cost of defending
himself/herself at trial, and the risk of a harsher punishment if convicted
as originally charged.