Arraignment

Arraignment is an official announcement of a criminal complaint, where the defendant has to be present and inform the defendant of the charges.  Each time that a crime has been committed, the court system springs into action through a series of steps.  The process of going through the court system has a reputation for being slow, with some court cases not being decided for six months to up to a year after the case has begun.

The Arraignment Process

In the arraignment process, the defendant will be expected to answer to the arraignment by first entering a plea, which can include guilty, not guilty, or not content. Without a plea to begin with, a court case will not be able to proceed.  Following the plea, the judge will read out loud the charges with both sides present, after which, the defendant will officially read their plea (they would have had to decide on the plea earlier, and perhaps announced their intention of what they were going to plea for).  Should the defendant plead not guilty, the court date will then be scheduled for a later date.

Changing the Arraignment Date

A person should be able to get their arraignment date changed most of the time. This can be done by simply contacting the court and requesting an adjournment, and they must have a valid reason for the request.

Missing the Arraignment

When a person misses their arraignment, a warrant will usually be issued stating their failure to appear in court. This will make the person an official fugitive, and the warrant will remain official until the person agrees to the arraignment.

Other circumstances that can arise here is if the person is simply unable to get to their arraignment. Choosing to not go to the arraignment is one thing, but actually not being able to go to it is definitely another.  Solutions to this include still going through with the arraignment via a live video feed, or requesting a change in the arraignment date beforehand with the court.  Usually, this request will have to be done at least five days before the arraignment is to begin.  Otherwise, it will be too late.

As we have said, the legal system in court is definitely long, and due to its ever increasing complexity, it can be confusing.  It’s important that you show up for your arraignment and that you enter your plea.

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Rachel