When an arrest occurs there are some legal steps that follow. The arraignment is the legal procedure that is used to formally charge a defendant. While you may have been arrested, there could be several or more charges pending. In an arraignment, the judge will provide you with the charge or charges against you and will set a date for the next legal procedure. The judge will also ask you to enter a plea to the charges.

Arraignment Process

The arraignment process is one of the most important aspects of your case. It can be particularly important to have an attorney to represent you during the arraignment. Your lawyer will review your situation and will discuss the details of the case with you. It may be possible for your attorney to speak with the prosecutor and in some cases the charges can be lowered or some charges may even be dropped. This can make a critical impact on the case.

Entering a Plea

During an arraignment the judge will ask you what your plea is in response to the charges. Defendants have several plea options including not guilty, guilty, and no contest. Before entering a plea it is critical that you discuss these options with your criminal attorney. Entering a not guilty plea allows the case to proceed through the legal system. A guilty plea means that you agree to the charges against you and can be sentenced accordingly. Always talk to your lawyer before considering your options.


If you have been held in jail the judge will likely set bail at the time of the arraignment. The bail is set based on many factors including the possibility of leaving the area. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant will return to court proceedings for the case. A lawyer will fight to have your bail reduced or even eliminated if possible. He can present reasons why the bail should be lowered. Once bail has been set the defendant has to post a portion of it, usually 10%, to be released. If you don’t have the money for bail you may be able to get help through a bail bondsman.

Defending Your Case

After the arraignment, you and your attorney will be able to review your case in more detail and begin to determine the best defense. A pretrial hearing will usually be set at which time your attorney will have access to the evidence against you. An experienced defense attorney will assist you at the arraignment and throughout the legal process to help get a favorable result. Your lawyer will help guide you through the situation and answer any questions you may have.