How Long After Arraignment Is Sentencing (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 45 to 60 days

Arraignment refers to the legal process of acquiring the first court date for the accused. Arraignment hearings usually happen within 48 hours of a person’s initial arrest. The main aim is to read out the charges against the accused during this hearing.  If they post bail, then they can wait for the hearing outside police custody, while if they opt-out of the bail plea, then they are held in custody until the hearing.

The arrested individual is sentenced for his or her crimes at the sentencing hearing. This happens as the last stage of the trial-i.e. after the accused has pleaded guilty or has been proven guilty by the prosecutor in a court of law.

How Long After Arraignment Is Sentencing?

The process of arraignment and sentencing can vary according to the specific type of offense committed by the individual. The waiting timeline between phases of a criminal trial can also be affected by several other contingent factors. Therefore it is impossible to devise a holistic timeline for these stages of the legal process as each case is different. However, a generalized overview can be formulated on the basis of certain given norms.

If the person is found guilty of a federal crime then the arraignment and sentencing hearings may have a longer time gap. Generally, if the individual is in custody then the sentencing happens within 75 days of the formal arraignment process. However, if he or she is not in custody then it can take as long as 90 days for a sentencing hearing to take place.

Alternatively, county norms are quite divergent for criminal trials of cases that are not federal offenses. In these cases, the sentencing hearing may happen as early as 45 days after the arraignment hearing date. In many counties in the US, this is the norm. Again, these set norms may vary in accordance with the specific case at hand and the predicament of the courts.

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It is also important to cognize that it is only under specific circumstances that sentencing hearings happen. If the accused has pleaded not guilty before the court and has consequently been proven guilty by trial, then a sentencing hearing can happen. If the accused enters into a plea deal with the district attorney prior to the trial, then there is not sentencing hearing after an arraignment procedure.

In Summary:

Specifics of the CaseTime Period of Waiting After Arraignment
Federal Case (In Custody)75 days after the trial
Federal Case (Not in Custody)90 days after the trial
County Offense45 days after the trial

Why Does It Take So Long For Sentencing After Arraignment?

Usually, sentencing takes a long time after arraignment because of the bureaucratic nuances of the processes that have to be observed closely within the criminal justice system. There are several formidable steps that need to be fulfilled in between the formal arraignment of the accused and the final sentencing of the individual.

The time period in between is devoted to pretrial motions. During this phase of the process, both the prosecution and defense try to strategize about the ways of winning the case by either suppressing evidence or filing to dismiss charges altogether. This takes a few weeks to effectively frame the trial stage that follows.

The trial stage is the lengthiest phase. There may also be a jury selection process before the trial begins or the two sides may opt for the trial to be presided over by a judge. During this stage, both sides of the case argue their perspectives, present evidence, etc. After this is over, the defendant is either found guilty or is proclaimed innocent. If the former happens a sentencing hearing is inevitable.

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The time period before this last punishment-determining hearing is taken by the judge to reevaluate the history, background, and standing of the accused. Good behavior and community spirit can positively affect the judge’s decision. These factors have a role to play in the type and length of a sentence.

Sometimes, especially in federal cases, lags are common because of inter-departmental delays. In these cases, many departments are involved and case handling, evidence transfer, etc. may take time, thus delaying the sentencing hearing after arraignment.

Conclusion

The legal process of seeking justice is a lengthy and arduous one. It takes time to navigate through the many stages of criminal trial proceedings. Arraignment hearings mark the beginning of this process. It usually takes much longer to reach and complete the other stages of criminal trials.

Generally, the timeframe of punishment for the guilty individual will be decided during a sentencing hearing for the case, which is held within 45 to 90 days of the initial arraignment hearing. This may, however, be delayed sometimes because of the bureaucratic nature of the criminal justice system. However, each individual has a right to a speedy and fast trial under legal statutes.

References

  1. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/695285
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022427894031002006
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