What is Formal Arraignment?

You might be wondering what does formal arraignment means? A defendant will be formally arraigned in court about a month to two following a preliminary hearing. As a criminal defendant, you will be issued a document outlining your rights and explaining those rights.

Your plea of guilt or innocence will be recorded at your arraignment. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney before deciding on a plea. There is no legal requirement for victims to be present at arraignments.

What is Formal Arraignment
What is Formal Arraignment

What Is Formal Arraignment?

A Defendant is formally informed of the allegations against them at the arraignment, which takes place thirty to sixty days after the preliminary hearing. It is held in the Court of Common Pleas in the district where the alleged crimes happened.

At Formal Arraignment, Defendant will likely enter a plea of “Guilty” or “Not guilty” to the allegations against them. The court will inform the Defendant that they may file pre-trial arguments and request discovery. But there are stringent deadlines; for example, certain motions must be filed within 30 days after arraignment.

What Happens During the Formal Arraignment?

Your arraignment is the next phase in the legal process. Neither the prosecutor nor the judge usually shows up at this point. An official charging document (called “information”) will be supplied to you. The pre-trial motion process will be explained to you as well as your other rights.

You will be questioned if you have a lawyer or would like one appointed by the court. You’ll be allowed to enter a plea of guilt, innocence, or no contest when confronted with criminal accusations.

Within thirty days of your initial arraignment, your felony defense attorney must usually file court hearings, to which the district attorney’s office must react. You will be assigned a judge from the Court of Common Pleas and allowed to appear for a pre-trial hearing at the arraignment.

What happens during the Formal Arraignment
What happens during the Formal Arraignment

Do You Need An Attorney At the Formal Arraignment?

Yes. When dealing with serious charges, having legal representation on your side is essential. An experienced lawyer is required at every stage of the legal process, beginning with the Preliminary hearing and continuing through the pre-trial conference and trial.

It is crucial to have legal representation at your formal arraignment. So that your lawyer can review the evidence and initiate discovery proceedings as soon as possible to begin constructing your defense. The attorney can also inform you of the charges against you and possible defenses you have within a given time frame.

All offers for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, which is available for non-violent offenses, including theft and DUI, will be made at the Formal Arraignment. You can also be offered participation in the Phoenix Program, a similar diversionary program that takes place before a trial.

Also Read: How Long After Arraignment Is Sentencing

Formal Arraignment Vs Preliminary Hearing

There are two types of pre-trial proceedings:

  • The preliminary hearing
  • The arraignment.

At the preliminary hearing, the judge will determine whether sufficient evidence exists to proceed with a trial. At the arraignment, you can enter a plea of guilt, innocence, or no contest. It is your prerogative to forgo a preliminary hearing; you are not required to have one.

If you proceed with the pre-trial hearing, the prosecution must show probable cause to try you on the charges. Suppose they want to press criminal charges against you. In that case, they’ll have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were responsible for what happened.

At preliminary hearings, the court may consider evidence that would be excluded at the trial. Proof from the scene, or hearsay, can be used. The prosecution would be barred from using witness testimony. It must prove that they followed all applicable laws in collecting their evidence.

After the preliminary hearing, you may be arraigned immediately or later. The judge will lay out the charges against you here, and you can enter a plea. Having a skilled criminal defense attorney present at all stages of the criminal process, from the preliminary hearing to the arraignment.

Is Bail Set During a Preliminary Arraignment?

Even during preliminary arraignment, the magistrates’ court will decide what bail to set for the prisoner based on the severity of the charges against them. You may be eligible for release on your recognizance without bail or other conditions if your crime is minor, such as driving under the influence. You can see What Happens After Arraignment.

Unsecured bonds don’t require you to pay anything to escape jail, but you will have to promise not to break specific rules while you’re out. For more serious offenses, you may be required to post a bond with the court to ensure your appearance at future hearings. You’ll have plenty of time to contact a bail bond agent, your loved ones, and a bail attorney in Lemoyne before your court date.


Can charges be dropped at an arraignment hearing?

In most cases, judges will not be able to drop charges during an arraignment. The prosecutor can indeed drop charges during an arraignment only in exceptional circumstances.

What happens after formal arraignment in PA?

After a preliminary arraignment in Pennsylvania, a pre-trial conference is scheduled. Data placed into the record conveys your desired course of action to the judge presiding over your case.

What does formal arraignment mean? 

After the preliminary hearing, Defendant will be formally arraigned. You will be formally charged at the hearing and given the opportunity to enter a plea. After a preliminary hearing, you will likely have your whole arraignment within 30-60 days.

How is the arraignment of the accused made?

In the courtroom, the judge or clerk must ask the accused to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty after reading the petition or information to him in his native local dialect.