If you (or someone you know) were arrested for a crime of any sort, the first time you’ll likely step into the courtroom concerning that arrest will be for the arraignment. The arraignment occurs after the arrest and booking (and bail, if applicable). It’s the first stage at which the judge (or magistrate) reads the crime alleged against you in open court. In essence, the arraignment is where you learn about what you did and why you were arrested.
The arraignment is also the first time that you (or someone you know) will be called a defendant, i.e. the accused. The state, i.e. government, acts as the complainant against the defendant and will generally be represented by a prosecutor, police officer, or other individual with authority to represent the state.
The judge will tell the defendant his or her rights and responsibilities, and ask the defendant certain questions including how he or she wants to plead and whether he or she has an attorney. The questions the judge asks the defendant are important and should not be taken lightly. In fact, how a defendant pleads can dictate the whole outcome of the case. That’s why it’s important to seek an experienced attorney to deal with the particular issues of the case.
With that said, it’s also important to understand how the arraignment process works. In this article, we explore what things you’ll likely hear at an arraignment, how pleading works at an arraignment, and how the right to counsel is generally brought up.
Next, we’ll take a look at the different things you’ll likely hear at an arraignment.