Arraignments

An arraignment is your initial appearance before the judge. You will receive a copy of the criminal complaint which will indicate the charges made against you, you will be advised of your constitutional rights, a determination will be made as to whether you should apply for a public defender and the Court will ascertain if your name is correctly spelled on the criminal complaint.  If the charges are "misdemeanors", you have a right to plead "guilty", "no contest" or "not guilty".  If you plead "guilty" or "no contest" to the misdemeanor charges (except if the charge is either DUI or Domestic Battery) you will be sentenced during the arraignment.  Because the penalties are more severe if the charge is either a DUI or Domestic Battery a Deputy District Attorney may also be present and an alcohol evaluation may be required before sentencing. For these reasons, sentencing may be continued to another date. If you plead "not guilty" a trial date is set within SIXTY (60) days of the arraignment date unless you waive that requirement in which case your matter will be set for a Pre-Trial Conference (a meeting between you, your attorney (if you have one) and the Deputy District Attorney to see if you matter can be resolved without a trial).  The Court typically schedules a Pre-Trial Conference within 8 weeks.

If the charge is a felony, or gross misdemeanor, a preliminary examination will be set within FIFTEEN (15) days thereafter and you will have the ability to apply for a public defender.  You may waive the requirement of the preliminary examination within the FIFTEEN (15) day period.

* Criminal Arraignments begin at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays
* You must check in at the Arraignment counter no later than 8:15 a.m.
* There are NO exceptions to this rule.
* By law, you will be given your constitutional rights prior to the Arraignment hearing and that is accomplished in the courtroom by the Judge prior to the actual Arraignment. It is imperative that you be in the courtroom at that time or you will not be arraigned that day and may be deemed to have failed to appear.  If you fail to appear for your arraignment, you may be subject to additional fines and fees and/or have a warrant issued for your arrest.
* Once you have checked in at the Arraignment counter in the Criminal Division (Window #2), you must go to the courtroom as soon as it is opened..

Public Defender

* If you have been charged with a crime and are facing the potential of a jail sentence, you may apply for legal representation if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer. At the time of your first appearance before the Judge, let the Judge know that you would like an attorney to be appointed to represent you. You will have to complete an application for appointment of the Public Defender which will be reviewed by the Judge, who will make the determination on whether or not you qualify.

If you are a parent and Social Services has removed your children, placing them in the care and custody of Washoe County, you may apply for the legal representation as well.