Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Theodore P. Skotnicki
An arraignment is a legal proceeding in which someone is first brought before a court of jurisdiction to answer felony charges. There is a similar proceeding for people accused of lesser offenses, such as misdemeanors and violations, known as an “initial appearance”—though this proceeding is often incorrectly called an arraignment. Arraignments are considered an essential component of the due process of law. Specifically, they preserve the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of a criminal accusation. At the arraignment, the court will ensure that counsel represents the defendant, and the defendant will then hear the formal charges against him or her. These charges are in the form either of an indictment issued by a grand jury or an “information” filed by the prosecutor. The accused will then be able to enter his or her plea, most commonly “not guilty” or “guilty.” There ...