What Happens at an Arraignment?

After being arrested by the police, you may have a mixture of anxiety, fear, and trepidation. Perhaps you have never been through this before and do not have a clue about how the court system works. The uncertainty of it all may leave you feeling powerless. When it comes to going through the criminal justice system, you first need to understand the steps involved. One of the first and most critical moments after your arrest is the arraignment. Find out what this step means and what the possible outcomes are.

What Is An Arraignment?

The U.S. Constitution affords citizens many civil rights that the authors did not have. The Sixth Amendment guarantees anyone charged with a crime the right to a fair and speedy trial. The arraignment is the first step in this process. It typically occurs in the first three days of your arrest either by closed-circuit television from where you are held, or in a courtroom. It is presided over by a judge or magistrate, depending on the type of court in your area. Not everyone may get an arraignment. Some people may just be released on bail or of their own free will with a citation. As a general rule of thumb, if the crime you are charged with could come with jail time, you will have an arraignment.

What Is the Purpose of an Arraignment?

The arrangement is your first opportunity to hear the official charges against you. It is the first opportunity for the court to remind you that you have the right to get a lawyer to represent you. You may ask for a court-appointed attorney at this time. Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for a public defender. If the crime is serious enough, a judge will appoint an attorney whether you indicate that you want one or not. If you already have an attorney representing you at the arraignment, the judge will give you the chance to enter a plea at this time.

What Are the Outcomes of an Arraignment?

Depending on the charges, a court may prefer you speak with an attorney before entering a plea. Most arraignments end with you entering a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.” If bail is an option, it is set, or you are released pending the trial.

Contacting a criminal lawyer, like a criminal lawyer in Bloomington, IL, upon your arrest is one way to ensure your rights are fully represented at an arraignment and beyond.


Thanks to Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols Attorneys at Law for their insight into what happens at an arraignment.