What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is the procedure where the state attorney announces the formal charges in your case and you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. At a misdemeanor arraignment, the State may offer you a plea deal and the court will allow you to enter a plea of guilty or no contest based upon that plea deal. If you represent yourself at the arraignment and enter a plea deal with the State, it will be difficult if not impossible to back out of that plea deal. Because there are often times consequences associated with a plea deal that you might not be aware of, you should always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney prior to pleading guilty or no contest to a criminal offense. In addition, there may be alternatives, such as your eligibility to participate in a diversion program (see case resolution section) that the State will not offer you.
At a felony arraignment the State will file the formal charges in a written document called the “Information”. Typically, if you are unrepresented by counsel at a felony arraignment, the court will enter a plea of not guilty for you. The court will also consider appointing the Office of the Public Defender at that time, as well. If you hire one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys, you will NOT have to attend your arraignment. We will file the appropriate paper work to enter your formal NOT GUILTY plea and advise the court that we will be representing you.