What Is An Arraignment?

What Is An Arraignment?

Following an arrest, an arraignment is the first court appearance a defendant will make. They may or may not still be in custody when the arraignment is scheduled.

In this hearing, the prosecution formally announces the charges against a defendant. The judge then asks the defendant how they wish to plead against the charges: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

If a defendant hires an attorney before the hearing, they have the option to waive the arraignment. The attorney can submit written pleadings on their behalf, and the defendant won’t have to appear in court. Alternatively, if a defendant waives the arraignment hearing, and pleads not guilty because they are already aware of the charges.

A defendant who doesn’t yet have an attorney can request that the hearing be rescheduled for when they will.

Attending the Arraignment

An arraignment is the first hearing in a case. The court schedules the hearing after the defendant has been criminally charged. The defendant receives a notice to appear with a date and time. Rather than just appear and plead, consult with a criminal defense attorney before the arraignment.

An arraignment for a criminal case is required to happen within 24 hours of the arrest by Florida law. The hearing can be in-person or via video teleconference.

Besides you and your attorney, the judge, courtroom personnel, and the prosecutor will be present. The prosecutor is the government’s attorney.

What Happens Next

Much occurs in this hearing, even though it’s not the actual trial. Your rights may be impacted by what happens in the arraignment.

In this hearing, the charges are read into the court’s formal record. You may know the charges that led to the arrest, but you may not know the entire case. Some charges may be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. You will learn this at the hearing. The charges may be updated if additional evidence is found following the arrest.

The defendant is given the opportunity to enter a plea. While most people plead not guilty, confer with your attorney for pleading no contest. If you and your attorney have already made arrangements for a plea bargain, you may be required to plead guilty as a condition.

When you plead not guilty, and the judge issues a bond requirement, your pretrial hearings can take place. After posting bond, you will be able to go home, go to work, and confer with your attorney on your case.

Florida law requires that a defendant have the opportunity to confer with their legal counsel prior to any activity or movement in their case. Even if you do not immediately have an attorney, you will have the opportunity to confer with one before the arraignment stage is finished.


After an arrest, it’s your responsibility to protect and defend yourself, starting with the arraignment. The police are unconcerned with justice, only making arrests, and solving cases. We believe that you should consult with a criminal defense attorney anytime you are asked to speak to the police. Say nothing to them until you speak with us.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or accused of a crime, contact the criminal defense team of Farkas & Crowley as soon as possible. We are available 24/7, whenever you need us. Call (561)-444-9529 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.

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