Being arrested on any criminal charge can be a scary experience. A person's life can suddenly shift from normal everyday cares and concerns to major fears about being convicted of a crime and sent to prison. But, a lot of legal procedures must take place before someone can be convicted of a crime. One of the early steps in the criminal process is arraignment.
Arraignment usually occurs after someone has been arrested and booked at a local police precinct. It usually occurs after that person has had a bail hearing. During the arraignment process, the defendant is brought before a judge. The judge will then have that person stand and read any and all criminal charges that have been filed against them.
The judge will also ask the defendant if they have an attorney. If not, the judge will also ask if the defendant needs to have an attorney appointed to them by the court. A very important part of the arraignment process is when the judge asks the defendant how they plead. The defendant can then choose to plead either 'not guilty', 'guilty' or 'no contest.'
An arraignment can also include an additional ruling regarding the defendant's bail. The amount of bail can be raised or lowered or the judge can release the defendant without paying any bail amount. This is known as being released on one's own recognizance.
Any future court dates regarding the defendant's case can also be determined at an arraignment. However, any Maryland resident who has been arrested may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney in order to discover the best possible strategies to use in their particular case.
Source: FindLaw, "Arraignment," Accessed March 12, 2016