An arraignment is typically your first court appearance where you are formally advised of the charges against you and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or if permitted by the court a NOLO plea. A NOLO plea in New Hampshire is the equivalent of a guilty plea in the criminal context, it does provide you some minor protection if you anticipate being sued for the conduct that led to your arrest. You will have a record of conviction if you enter a guilty, NOLO or no contest plea.
In district court, an Attorney can typically waive this hearing on you behalf and have a not guilty plea entered and a trial date is set. Unfortunately, some district courts have created "local rules" requiring your presence at these preliminary hearings to potentially readdress the issue of bail.
If you are charged with a felony offense you will be required to enter a not guilty plea at the district court level as the district court does not have the authority to resolve a felony level offense. Another hearing date will be scheduled for a probable cause hearing and, assuming the State can establish probable cause for your arrest, the case will be "bound over" and sent to superior court where you will be "indicted" or formally charged with a felony offense in the court that has the jurisdiction to resolve the case.
At each step of this process the involvement of an attorney with knowledge of the local rules and court culture is critical in seeking a prompt and just resolution of your case. Going to court alone is almost always a very bad idea.
Andrew Cotrupi, Esquire, 428 Lafayette Rd., Suite 102, Hampton, NH 03842 Phone: (603) 926-5818 Fax: (603) 758- 6376