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What is an Arraignment?

Your arraignment is the initial meeting between you and a judge after being arrested, and this appearance can be pivotal in many ways.

At your arraignment hearing, you will be informed of what charges are being filed against you and asked how you wish to plead. In addition, this meeting allows you to hire or obtain court-appointed legal representation if necessary.

What happens at an arraignment?

Arrangement occurs the first time someone charged with criminal acts appears before a judge for their initial court appearance, usually shortly after being arrested and booked in jail. They will be advised of their rights and charges against them at this initial court appearance, including accessing counsel if desired. Depending on jurisdictions, bail may also be set. People with representation at this critical stage must have legal counsel represent them during this initial appearance before the court.

After being brought before an arraignment court, defendants will be asked to enter their plea. Either they can choose not guilty or plead nolo contendere (no contest), which means they do not admit their guilt but agree to be sentenced as though found guilty. Defendants should speak clearly and concisely when entering their plea, as any misstep could have serious repercussions.

Once the judge has completed reading aloud the charges against the defendant, she/he can request to receive a copy at this point. Once she/he has finished, the judge will inquire as to the plea of the defendant; usually, he or she will plead not guilty.

After arraignment, the prosecutor will typically set further hearings to prepare for trial based on the evidence in the case and the defendant’s ability to pay for an adequate defense. It is essential that during this phase, an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer stands alongside them, protecting their rights and advocating on their behalf.

People charged with crimes can find it intimidating to stand before a judge for the first time, but filing a waiver of arraignment with the court can ease that pressure considerably. Your lawyer can submit the paperwork; remember to get it approved first!

Waivers of arraignment can be invaluable tools for those facing serious charges that require lengthy court processes to reach trial. The process tends to move much quicker, and defendants can begin working on their cases sooner.

Plea bargaining

Legal systems can be intimidating for those facing criminal charges, particularly for someone unfamiliar with them. An arrest can have far-reaching repercussions that one might never anticipate; an experienced attorney should help guide and protect your rights throughout this process.

After being arrested and charged with a crime, your arraignment will be the initial time you appear before a judge to plead. At this point, they will read out a list of charges to you and ask which way you plan to plead – guilty, not guilty, or no contest are all options you have at this point in time; depending on how your plea unfolds, further proceedings may follow.

Your attorney will work to negotiate an amicable resolution of your case without going to trial, known as plea bargaining. They may offer an offer in return for pleading guilty or no contest; for instance, if you are charged with possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs, for example, they could offer reduced charges such as simple possession if you plead guilty – usually including some jail time and fine but possibly lighter sentences than would apply if your trial were to go forward and you were found guilty.

Plea bargaining isn’t uncommon and is quite prevalent when dealing with controlled substances and drugs. A prosecutor might not be able to persuade a jury of your guilt, so they will likely try and settle your case early to avoid an expensive trial which might not end well for either side. Therefore you must hire an attorney who can protect your rights while negotiating for the most desirable result.

At an arraignment hearing, a judge will also address and determine bail. At this point, they may release you on your recognizance (ROR), set a bail amount, or require that you be held without bond, depending on several factors, including the seriousness of the charge; history of prior convictions; community ties; dependencies (if someone is relying on your income; whether you attended previous court appearances); among others.


At an arraignment hearing, bail is of primary concern to the judge. At this hearing, defendants learn more about their charges and rights and are expected to enter a plea within 24 hours after arrest.

At an arraignment, the prosecutor will present all charges against a defendant and request either that bail be set or whether they wish to waive it. Defense counsel can discuss with prosecutors about finding an alternative way out without going to trial; this process is known as Plea Bargaining.

At an arraignment hearing, defendants should neither debate nor present evidence related to their case. Statements that could incriminate may also not be made, as this information could be used against them at later court hearings by judges and magistrates. At any criminal arraignment proceedings, it is advised that defendants always have an attorney present as they face their judge for this process.

Due to a high volume of arrests and processed individuals in certain jurisdictions, arraignments may occur inside a jail cell or over a video feed. An arraignment does not constitute a trial, and no witnesses testify at this stage; neither the accused nor their arresting officer or complaining witness need to speak during this phase of proceedings; neither will a judge decide guilt or innocence during an arraignment hearing.

If a judge sets bail, it is often in cash; alternatively, they may allow defendants to sign an undertaking with the court promising they will appear for every scheduled court appearance and at all court dates. If someone fails to do this, a warrant may be issued for arrest, and any money or property used as bail may be forfeited as a penalty.

How the defendant is released from custody depends on the severity of his/her crime and the involvement of victims. A judge can order cash bonds, recognizance bonds, or secured bonds by judge order; when posting either type of bond, he/she can do it themselves or through third parties such as family.

Waiver of arraignment

If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, your arraignment will determine whether or not you are released on your recognizance, detained until trial, or whether or not a judge should set bail. At your arraignment, the court will inform you of all the charges against you and potential penalties such as fines, probation, and jail time.

The judge will advise you of your rights and ask how you would like to plead. Your options include guilty, not guilty or no contest pleadings; in case of guilty pleadings, the patient will proceed directly to sentencing after a presentence report has been created; but for not guilty pleas, this case may move through pre-trial hearings, trial to court proceedings or jury trial depending on your charge.

A felony case will typically be presented before a grand jury for indictment. If you wish to waive your arraignment, however, your lawyer can enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf and file a waiver of arraignment with the court in your place. Your lawyer must still attend to file such paperwork – in other words, even though you do not need to treat yourself but only your attorney has to be present for such procedures to occur.

If your attorney enters a not guilty plea at your arraignment, a pretrial hearing, trial to the court, or jury trial, depending on your charge, will follow. However, if you plead guilty instead, sentencing can begin after either a presentence report or victim impact statement has been created and submitted by your defense counsel.

A judge will identify you by name at your arraignment and read out any official charges against you. They will also offer you the chance to request a public defender or waive it altogether while reviewing your criminal background and any relevant case-specific details that pertain to you. They may determine if there is flight risk involved as well as determine if custody must be ordered until the trial begins – while informing you of your right to speedy trial proceedings.