What is an Arraignment?

An arraignment is typically the beginning of every criminal case. Arraignment is where the prosecution announces the charges they are filing against you (if any).  This is also where the judge formally addresses the charges against you and asks you how you wish to plea to the charges. The pleas are usually “guilty," “not guilty” or “no contest."

If you have hired an attorney prior to the arraignment date, you could have the option to waive the arraignment. If your attorney files written pleadings on your behalf, you do not have to physically show up to court. If a defendant (through counsel) waives the arraignment, it usually means that he or she is aware of the charges against them, and will plead not guilty.

Normally, the arraignment occurs shortly after the arrest. For in-custody defendants, if an arraignment takes longer than expected, the defendant could argue that his or her constitutional right to a Speedy Trial is being violated. If there is proof that the arraignment was delayed for an inexcusable reason, the case could be dismissed. However, this is most likely not the case.

If the defendant wants, needs, or does not have a criminal defense attorney on the day of the arraignment, the defendant is allowed to ask for a rescheduling of the arraignment day. If this occurs, the judge can reschedule the arraignment for a day that the defendant will have a lawyer present.