What’s an “Arraignment”?
You’ve been arraigned. But what does that mean? Here’s some information about what an arraignment is and what you can expect.
What is an Arraignment?
An arraignment is the first part of a criminal procedure. It occurs in a courtroom before a judge and is due in order to give the accused defendant a reading of the crime that he or she is being charged with.
Rules Governing Arraignment
The Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution requires an arraignment as a way to protect the accused from being held in custody for an extended period of time without being told what they are being charged with. Because of this, there is a set time after an arrest (usually 72 hours) that he arraignment must occur within. If an arraignment does not happen within that period of time, an accused can argue his or her constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated.
Different Rules for Arraignments
Many factors play into the rules of arraignments: whether the charge is a federal or state crime, or a felony or misdemeanor. Rules for arraignments also vary by state. Typically though, if you could potentially spend time in jail for a conviction, you will be arraigned.
Steps for Arraignment
Arraignments are a multiple-step procedure:
- The accused appears in court. Here he or she will be advised of his or her rights to be represented by an attorney. A public defender can be provided if the accused is not able to afford an attorney. Once counsel has been chosen the charges are read.
- The accused is expected to enter a plea at this point: guilty, not guilty, or no contest (not admitting guilt but will not contest charges).
- Parties are able to waive an arraignment and just enter the plea. Sometimes this is done in exchange for something from the prosecutor.
Additional Arraignment Tasks
During an arraignment, arrangements regarding bail and or release are also reviewed. A court might also announce dates of future proceedings like a pretrial conference and or the trial.
Source: Atttorneys.com, What Is an Arraignment? 2014
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