An arraignment is your first court date in a criminal case, that tells you what you’re charged with and what the maximum penalties are for that charge.
Its an important date if you don’t have an attorney. If you do have an attorney, we go to the arraignment or we waive the arraignment–so you’ll never go to an arraignment if you have an attorney.
Now, of course, there are exceptions to that, right? The main exception is, well, first of all–always get an attorney before your arraignment date. I’ll give you one example why:
I had a client, a sex offender that had been to prison for exposing himself to children (etc. etc.). What does he do when he gets out of prison? He does it again. Except, the cop charges him wrong. The cop charges him with a misdemeanor. And, that means that maybe he won’t go to prison. So, rather than waive the arraignment, of course, we utilized that arraignment. We show up at arraignment and we compel the judge to accept a plea on a misdemeanor.Why is that important?
Well, once he enters a plea on a misdemeanor, and the prosecutor knew what we were doing, he had some ways to stop us but he was too young to understand how to stop it. And, we won that case because they could not file the felony because we showed up at arraignment and took care of the lesser misdemeanor–which blocked the felony.
My only point here is, there is some strategy involved in whether you utilize an arraignment. But, you’ve got to get your attorney involved before the arraignment to plot and scheme. So, my advice to you is, long before your arraignment, make sure you consult with an attorney.