3. Arraignment – defendant hears the charges and enters a plea:

     This page is continued from Criminal Law Self-Help >>>> Judicial  Proceedings >>>> Criminal Proceedings:


     The suspect makes his first court appearance at the arraignment.  During arraignment, the judge reads the charges filed against the defendant in the complaint, and the defendant chooses to plead “guilty,” “not guilty” or “no contest” to those charges.  The judge will also review the defendant’s bail and set dates for future proceedings. [1]

n. (17c)

1. The initial step in a criminal prosecution whereby the defendant is brought before the court to hear the charges and to enter a plea. Fed. R. Crim. P. 10.  Cf. PRELIMINARY HEARING; initial appearance under appearance. — arraign, vb. [2]

1. The act of bringing an accused before a court to answer the charge made against him by indictment, information, or complaint.  It consists o bringing the accused into court, reading the charge to him then and there, and then calling upon him to plead thereto as “guilty” or “not guilty.” [3]

1. The act of bringing an accused before a court to answer a criminal charge made against him and calling upon him to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. [4]

plea – a response required by law of a person formally accused of a crime. — aka criminal plea.

Types of Pleas:

guilty plea – the defendant’s formal admission in court of having committed the charged offense.

  • Alford plea – a guilty plea, entered as part of a plea bargain, while not admitting guilt. — aka (in New York) Serrano plea.
  • blind plea – a guilty plea made without the promise of a concession from the judge or prosecutor.

not guilty plea – denial of having committed the charged offense.


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Justia Criminal Law Stages of a Criminal Case: https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/stages-of-a-criminal-case.html

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[4]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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