What is an arraignment?

Arraignment is the hearing where the defendant can enter a plea to the formal charges that the State has brought against him. There is formal arraignment where the defendant requires the State to read aloud in open court the charges against him before he enters his plea. In most cases, defendants waive formal arraignment and enter their plea. Arraignment starts the clock when the court will hear certain pre-trial motions.

What kind of plea can I enter at my arraignment?

Normally, most defendants enter a plea of not guilty to the charges against them. In some cases, a defendant will enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendre (no contest) to the charges against him. There are other special types of pleas, such as plea of incompetency, not guilty by reason of insanity, or guilty but mentally ill. However, those types of pleas deal in cases where there are mental health issues.

Do I have to appear at my arraignment?

In most jurisdictions in Georgia, a defendant’s attorney can waive formal arraignment and enter a plea on the behalf of the client. Thus, the client does not have to appear for this hearing. However, there are judges that do not permit this practice. The most common reason is that the judge requires all parties to sign off on a scheduling order that lays out deadlines for filing discovery motions, the filing of pre-trial motions, when the judge will hear those pre-trial motions, and a date for the parties to let the court know if there is going to be a trial. You will have to check with your attorney or the jurisdiction where your charges are pending to see if you have to appear.

Do I have to say anything at this arraignment?

If you have an attorney representing you, he or she will do the talking for you. If you are required to say anything, your attorney will let you know prior to the court date or prior to you going before the judge. If you do not have an attorney, the court will ask you questions regarding whether you got a copy of the charges against you, did you have the opportunity to read it, do you want the State to read those charges aloud, do you plan on hiring an attorney or if you wish to apply for a public defender, and how do you plea?

What happens if I fail to appear for my arraignment?

If you fail to appear for this court date, the State will ask the judge for a bench warrant, which is a warrant for your arrest; the State will ask the judge to forfeit your bond, and the judge will grant their request. In plain English, if you fail to appear for this court date, you will be going back to jail, possibly until the disposition of your case.

If you have a loved one with a criminal case in Georgia, and the date for the arraignment is upcoming or has past, now is the time to take action, and contact me at 404-585-1377 to discuss the case.

This post does not constitute legal advice. This post does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and me. Until you retain me, I am not your attorney. Moreover, this post is general information, and it does not replace the advice and counsel of an attorney that has reviewed the evidence in your case and has investigated the case on your behalf. In plain English, this is just general information; I do not represent you; my posts do not replace your attorney’s advice.



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