Anyone who has never been to an arraignment may be unsure of what they are and how the procedure works. When someone is arrested, they will be required to appear in front of a federal or state judge. Arraignments are court proceedings where criminal defendants are legally advised about their charges. They are defined as a presentation of charges or initial appearances.


In most cases, arraignments take place within a reasonable time following an arrest. Otherwise, there is the possibility of the case being dismissed due to the delay; the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a speedy trial. If the suspect is in jail, the arraignment should be held within 48 hours of the arrest. When the suspect is not in jail, the arraignment often happens a few weeks afterwards.

The first step towards an arraignment is when the defendant receives a written accusation from the prosecutor’s office. The defendant must respond to the charges verbally, and most reply not guilty. The judge will then set a schedule for courtroom proceedings, such as pretrial conferences, hearings, and the actual trial. Bail may be set or the defendant might be released on their own recognizance.

Arraignment Process

During the arraignment, defendants may also be advised of their constitutional rights, such as the right to counsel. They are also required to enter a plea of guilty or innocent. The court may wish to know if the defendant plans to hire a lawyer, may decide to set bail and its amount, and establish the conditions for release. The latter can include a ban on having contact with a plaintiff or travel restrictions. Other topics for consideration include the defendant’s release date and a schedule for further proceedings, like preliminary hearings.

If the charges against a defendant change appear emerge after the initial court appearance, a subsequent arraignment may take place. This can happen if new information is discovered at a preliminary hearing. In states that combine probable cause determinations with arraignments, defendants may be released if the court does not find probable cause that the defendant committed the crime.

How Lawyers Can Help

Hiring a criminal defense attorney before the arraignment provides certain advantages and can even derail cases. A main advantage is being able to expose a case’s weaknesses before events are in motion. Oftentimes, the courts have heavy caseloads, so weaker cases manage to fall through.

In the best scenario, a pre-arraignment meeting between the prosecutor and attorney could take place and the case could get dismissed. This option usually only exists for defendants who have arranged for private counsel before the arraignment. Defendants who choose court-appointed counsel may not even get someone appointed until the actual arraignment time. An experienced criminal attorney will also be familiar with any applicable state and federal laws that may apply to the arraignment.

Cherry Hill Criminal Lawyers at Aita Law, LLC Advocate for the Accused and Help with Arraignments

If you must attend an arraignment, it is essential to hire a knowledgeable lawyer that will help you with your court appearance. Our experienced Cherry Hill criminal lawyers at Aita Law, LLC will help you through the legal process of arraignments. In some cases, private counsel before arraignments are possible. Contact us online or call us at 856-287-7800 for a free consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients in Camden County, Cherry Hill, and throughout South Jersey.