An arraignment is a court proceeding following arrest where the criminal charges are formally read to the defendant. The charges may be presented by indictment (a formal charging instrument by a grand jury) or by information (formal charging instrument from the prosecutor). In the case of an indictment, a grand jury hears evidence and makes a determination as to whether there is probable cause that the defendant committed a crime. The type of crime determines how the defendant will be charged. Usually more serious crimes, like murder, require an indictment. After the indictment or information is created, the defendant is entitled to have the charges read to him in court and is given a copy of the written information or indictment so that he is fully aware of the charges against him before he enters a plea. At the arraignment, the defendant will be asked to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, no contest). If the defendant refuses to enter a plea, the court will enter a not guilty plea for him. The court must make sure the defendant understands the charges and has capacity to enter the plea, and in the case of a guilty plea, the court will want to be sure the defendant is making the plea voluntarily and without coercion or force. A defendant has the right to have an attorney present at an arraignment if the crime could result in jail time. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can fully explain the charges presented and outline the potential consequences of any plea the defendant may chose to make.
If you are facing criminal charges, please contact us to discuss your case.
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