Your first criminal charge will wreak havoc on your stress levels. If you have never faced an allegation of a crime before, you may be familiar with the language surrounding court and arrests but you may not have in-depth knowledge. If you feel as though you are in over your head with the California justice system, you probably are not the only one. As you prepare for your arraignment, it is time to learn what exactly happens at your arraignment.

The Judicial Branch of California explains the arraignment as the first time that you appear before a judge and in court. At this hearing, the judge will tell you a few different things. First, he or she will inform you as to the charges, then to your rights as a defendant. Next, he or she will explain how you can receive a lawyer appointed by the court if you cannot afford one of your own or you do not have one at this stage.

The arraignment is where you respond to your charges. You enter your plea at this time. The pleas include:

  • Not guilty
  • Guilty
  • No contest

What happens following your plea depends on whether you were under arrest before arraignment. If you were still in custody, then the judge may release you with the promise that you will return on your court date, he or she may set bail or he or she may send you to jail without bail. It depends heavily on the crime committed and the plea given.

None of the above information is to be considered legal advice. It is for informational purposes only.