What to Expect During Arraignment

By David Hammond

After an arrest, arraignment is the first step into the criminal process. In its most basic sense, arraignment is a court proceeding where a person accused of a crime is formally advised of the charges levied against him or her. The defendant is also asked to enter a plea. Arraignment is an important part of the process and happens quickly. While some facing low-level crimes may have an appearance ticket issued where arraignment will take place at a later stage, many will be detained for up to 24 hours before arraignment (although recent reforms made the appearance ticket much more common). Seek legal representation immediately to help expedite the process and protect your rights.

What to Expect During Arraignment

There are several things that will take place at the arraignment of a criminal defendant. First, if the defendant is deemed unable to afford an attorney, legal representation will be appointed. If the defendant has a private criminal defense attorney, that attorney will appear at arraignment with the defendant. All of the charges the defendant is facing will be read. In most instances, a formal reading of the charges is waived and the defendant’s attorney will receive a copy of the criminal complaint which will list the charges and the criminal laws that have been allegedly violated. It will also outline what facts are needed to support each charge.

The Assistant District Attorney (ADA) will also serve various notices at arraignment. One type of notice includes any alleged statements the defendant made to law enforcement. Another type of notice includes any non-law enforcement witnesses that have identified the defendant. Notices provide critical information regarding a defendant’s case. After notices have been provided, in a small number of cases the ADA may propose a resolution to the case. The proposed resolution may be a recommended sentence upon a plea or even an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD). If a resolution cannot be reached at arraignment, which is most common, the ADA may go on to request bail (if authorized under the recent bail reforms).

If the defendant is being charged with a misdemeanor and the case is not resolved at arraignment, another court date will be scheduled. If the defendant is being charged with a felony, notice to the defendant of the prosecutor’s intent to present the case to the Grand Jury will often be provided at arraignment. If the Grand Jury later votes to indict the defendant, the case will go to County Court where another arraignment will be held on the indictment. At that arraignment, the criminal defendant will again be advised of the charges, asked to enter a plea, and the issue of bail will be addressed.  The court will often set a timeline for the case at the arraignment, including dates for discovery matters and motions practice.

Syracuse Criminal Defense Attorneys

When you have been accused of a crime, time is of the essence. Important things will happen in your case sooner rather than later. You need dedicated legal counsel by your side to help. Secure trusted criminal defense counsel as soon as possible. At CDH Law, we are here to fight for you against all criminal charges. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.