The arraignment is generally your first appearance in court on the citation or charge where you are called upon by the judge to enter a plea. The judge will inform you of the charge and explain it. Next it will be confirmed that you understand your constitutional rights as explained at the beginning of the court session, and finally the maximum punishment and mandatory minimum punishment, if any, will be stated. No testimony is taken or evidence presented at the arraignment.

Watch an informational video on the court's arraignment process and procedures.


All persons accused of any crime or traffic offense that might result in a jail sentence have the following rights:

  1. To have a lawyer present with you at all hearings;

  2. To have an attorney appointed at public expense (if you qualify) if you cannot afford to hire one to represent you;

  3. To represent yourself without an attorney;

  4. To a speedy and public jury trial in the county where the crime is alleged to have been committed;

  5. To remain silent before and during trial, and to refuse to testify against yourself;

  6. To hear and question the witnesses who testify against you;

  7. To have witnesses testify for you. These witnesses can be made to appear at no expense to you;

  8. To the presumption of evidence until the charge is proven beyond a reasonable doubt or you enter a guilty plea;

  9. To appeal a determination of guilt after a trial.

After informing you of all these matters you will be asked by the judge to plead "guilty" or "not guilty" to the charge.


If you plead "guilty" it means you admit the charge and the elements to prove the charge. By pleading guilty you waive your constitutional rights and in most cases you will be sentenced immediately. Before announcing the sentence, the judge will ask if you have anything to say on your behalf. The judge will have reviewed the police report, if available. In some cases the judge will refer you to a probation officer for a pre-sentence investigation. In such a case the sentencing will be continued until the probation officer's report is ready.


A "not guilty" plea denies the charge and none of your constitutional rights are waived unless you expressly wish to do so. The next hearing will be a pre-trial conference where the prosecutor will present. You and your lawyer, if you have one, are required to be present. At this conference all motions are heard or set for hearing. A jury trial may be set with a confirmation hearing at least 3 days prior. Information about the evidence and witnesses in the case are exchanged. If you have waived your right to a jury trial, you will receive a notice in the mail of your non-jury (bench) trial date.