How Can an Attorney Help at an Arraignment?

An arraignment is the legal hearing that takes place after an arrest. The arraignment is also known as the first appearance since it’s the first time the person goes in front of a judge for the case. The process is a rather simple one; so many people wonder if they actually need an attorney present at this proceeding. A lawyer will certainly be able to help and in many cases will be able to much more. To understand how an attorney can assist it is helpful to understand the arraignment procedure.


The purpose of an arraignment is to provide the exact charges to the defendant, to get the initial plea of the defendant, and to set bail in the case. All of these items can be positively impacted with the help of an experienced criminal attorney. The process of the arraignment itself is rather brief; however, there are some actions behind the scenes that could have an effect on the situation. If you have been arrested it is important to get an attorney as soon as possible because the arraignment occurs quickly after the arrest.

Charges and Pleas

While you have been initially charged with some type of crime, the arraignment is the time when the actual charges will be filed. The prosecutor has evaluated the information and will determine the charges to be entered. Your attorney may be able to review the charges ahead of time. In some situations, the charges may be reduced because of lack of evidence in the case. Entering a plea is part of the process at an arraignment. Typically, it is best to enter a plea of not guilty in order to progress with your defense in the case. However, you should discuss the options and consequences with your attorney.

Setting Bail

Bail is a sum of money that must be provided to ensure that a defendant will return for the court case. If the charged crime is minor, the judge may allow the defendant a low bail or, in some situations, no bail. Your attorney can be extremely helpful in this part of the hearing. Your lawyer will be able to provide details that will help the judge set a lower bail in your case. For example, if this is your first offense, or you own a home and have a job, it is likely that you aren’t a fight risk, and the bail will reflect that. Talk to your lawyer about bail options.