What is an arraignment in Arkansas?
Can I tell my side of the story to judge at my arraignment in Arkansas?
No. You will be allowed to say one of two phrases: “Guilty.” or “Not Guilty.” If you try to do anything else, you will be cut off and not allowed to speak further.
Can I negotiate my plea deal or guilty plea at arraignment in Arkansas?
No. In fact, I highly doubt the prosecutor will even be there. They will allow you to plead guilty at a District Court Arraignment, however you will be sentenced by the judge right then an there, without any debate or say in the matter about why your case should be treated any differently than anyone else’s.
You will not even be allowed to plead guilty in any Circuit Court at your arraignment, and depending on the charge in District Court you might not be allowed to plead guilty at arraignment there either.
Do I have to go to my arraignment in Arkansas?
“The arraignment shall only be made in indictments for felonies and misdemeanors and may be dispensed with by the court, with the defendant’s consent.”
I’m guilty and have no defenses, should I go to court and plead guilty without an attorney or attempt to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor on my own?
No. There are lots of ways an attorney can negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor that a layman simply cannot. An attorney can research your case and find ways to get a not guilty that you are simply not aware of, even if you admitted guilt to police officers investigating the case. Additionally, there are some excuses that you might use to get a better plea deal that will infuriate some prosecutors, such as immigration status. Some prosecutors see illegal alien status as an aggravating factor to committing a crime, not one that should be considered for leniency.
One of the best ways to get a good plea deal from a prosecutor is to convince them they have a bad case or to threaten to take the case to trial. Prosecutors are insanely busy and most will try to keep a clean docket free of trials.
Do I have to go to court to plead guilty?
For a felony, yes. For a misdemeanor, it depends, but most likely not. For example, in Sebastian County, you are going to have to show up for everything but maybe the most minor of traffic tickets, but in Washington County, you only have to show up for misdemeanors that can become felonies if you commit them again, those are called enhanceable offenses, like Domestic Battery, Driving While Intoxicated, Cruelty to Animals, and Possession of Controlled Substance/Marijuana (even though this is enhanceable, most District Courts in Washington County will let you plead guilty through your attorney without showing up).