Arraignment Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Arraignment, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Arraignment?

(n) Arraignment is the first appearance of an accused before a judge in a criminal proceedings where in the charges against him are read to him and his plea is recorded. During arraignment a lawyer is appointed when the defendant cannot afford the service of a lawyer.

History and Meaning of Arraignment

Arraignment is a legal term which has its roots in medieval English law. It refers to the formal presentation of criminal charges to the defendant, who then enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. At arraignment, the judge also sets bail and appoints a lawyer to represent the defendant if they cannot afford one.

In modern American law, arraignment is the first step in criminal proceedings. It is a fundamental right of the accused to know the charges against them and to have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty.

Examples of Arraignment

  1. John was brought before the judge for arraignment on charges of burglary and assault.
  2. At his arraignment, the defendant decided to plead not guilty and his case was set for trial.
  3. The defendant's lawyer requested a continuance at arraignment, citing the need for more time to prepare his case.
  4. The judge set bail at $50,000 during the defendant's arraignment on a charge of drug possession.
  5. During her arraignment on embezzlement charges, the defendant was told that she had the right to remain silent.

Legal Terms Similar to Arraignment

  1. Bail: the amount of money paid to the court to secure the release of a defendant before trial.
  2. Plea: the defendant's formal response to criminal charges, either guilty or not guilty.
  3. Pretrial conference: a meeting between the defendant, the prosecutor, and the judge to discuss the case and try to reach a plea agreement.
  4. Indictment: a formal charging document used in some criminal cases instead of a complaint or information.
  5. Subpoena: a legal order requiring a person to appear in court or produce documents for a case.