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Arraignment Definition

After being arrested or charged with a crime, a defendant’s first formal appearance in court is an arraignment. An arraignment is usually a short court proceeding.

At the arraignment, a judge or magistrate will inform the defendant of the criminal charges, including the maximum possible time of incarceration and how high the fines can be if the defendant is convicted of the crime. They will then decide on an appropriate bond or bail that must be posted before the defendant can be released from custody.

Common Questions

What usually happens at an arraignment?

An arraignment is the first court proceeding in a criminal case. A criminal defendant is advised by either a magistrate or judge of the charges that have been filed against them, their legal and constitutional rights, and the maximum penalties. A criminal defendant then enters a plea (guilty, not guilty, no contest), the issue of bond is determined, and a future court date is set.

What is the primary purpose of the arraignment?

To inform a criminal defendant of the charges against them.

Does an arraignment mean you’re going to jail?

An arraignment does not automatically mean a criminal defendant will go to jail. Depending on the nature of the charges, it is possible to be released on bond during the pendency of a criminal case.

What happens if you plead not guilty at an arraignment?

If a criminal defendant pleads not guilty at an arraignment, the court will set a future court date such as a pretrial or a probable cause conference, depending on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or felony.

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