What Does Arraignment Mean in Court for a Felony?
The arraignment is the first court proceeding for a felony charge or other serious criminal charge, in which the defendant enters a plea of not guilty. An arraignment may also be called an appearance before the court. It can be either formal (by indictment) or informal.
The arraignment is the first appearance before a court of the defendant accused of committing a crime. It is also the first time the formal charges are made known to the defendant. Arraignment is a very important and serious step in the criminal justice process. The defendant, represented by the public defender, the court-appointed attorney, or an attorney hired by the court enters a plea of not guilty to the charges alleged in a criminal complaint.
The arraignment usually takes place in the first 30 days after a defendant is arrested. If for some reason the arraignment does not occur within 30 days, the judge has the power to dismiss a case without prejudice. This means that the defendant can be charged with the crime again by a new criminal complaint without a speedy trial violation unless an unreasonable delay is shown. The defendant also has the right to have a preliminary hearing on the charges before the arraignment. However, if the defendant is charged with a minor crime, such as petty theft or assault, the prosecutor may decide to proceed directly to trial.
If the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor or violation, and if the judge believes that a plea bargain will be reached, the judge can accept the defendant’s plea of guilty to the charge at arraignment. In this situation, no trial will take place. In addition, the judge may decide that it would be unjust to require the defendant to stand trial. This can happen if the result of the trial is obvious or if a conviction would be contrary to the public interest. In this case, he or she may dismiss the charge without prejudice.
The defendant has the right to obtain a full-text copy of the charges before entering a plea. The defendant and attorney also have the right to examine all statements made by witnesses against the defendant, as well as any reports or documents used by police or investigators connected with the case.
The defendant also has the right to determine whether or not the trial is based on eyewitness statements, statements from arrested individuals, or statements gathered by police. If the defendant chooses to proceed with a trial, the judge will make a special finding to protect against self-incrimination.
The arraignment can take place in any court below the Supreme Court level. The arraignment is usually held at one of the trial courts, and often in the location where the defendant was arrested. District courts have arraignments, but they are not as common as arraignments in criminal courts.
How long Does the Arraignment Last?
The arraignment usually lasts about 15 minutes. The defendant enters a plea of not guilty, and the prosecutor gives a summary of the charges. The judge then explains the possible penalties, the rights of the defendant, and warnings about future court actions.
Rights and Obligations of the Defendant in Arraignment
- The defendant has the right to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The judge then asks if the defendant wishes to retain an attorney. If the defendant wants to
- remain silent, the judge may enter a plea of not guilty on his or her behalf.
- The defendant has the right to obtain a full-text copy of the charges against him or her.
- Right to view all statements made by witnesses against him or her
- The defendant has the right to obtain a full-text copy of the charges against him or her.4
- . They have right to review all reports, documents, and other evidence used by law enforcement or investigators in the case.
- Right to obtain a copy of the transcript of all previous court proceedings in the case.
What Happens if the Defendant Changes his or Her Plea?
If the prosecutor or defense attorney wishes to change the plea, they must wait until after the arraignment. If the defendant wants to change his or her plea, he or she must ask for and receive permission from the judge.
The defendant has the right not to speak at the arraignment except for answering yes or no questions. If he or she wants to speak and does not receive permission, it is considered a violation of the rules of criminal procedure. This can result in the judge dismissing the case.
Can one Skip the Arraignment and Plead Guilty Later on?
After the arraignment, a defendant may enter a guilty plea at any time. The judge accepts or rejects the plea. If he/she accepts it, then a trial is unnecessary. If he or she denies it, the trial is on. If a defendant enters a guilty plea of guilty at arraignment, the judge can require him or her to enter another plea of not guilty. If the defendant refuses, an arraignment will not occur. This is a violation of the rules of criminal procedure. The judge can dismiss the case without prejudice. However, the prosecution can re-file charges against the defendant after 30 days.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, don’t wait until your arraignment to seek experienced legal advice. Contact a criminal defense attorney for help today. They will be able to answer your questions and give you an accurate picture of the charges against you. At the same time, they will be able to represent you in court if your case is called.