What is a Drug Arraignment?


An arraignment is when you appear in court to formally confirm that you are aware of the charges that have been brought against you and state for the record whether you are pleading not guilty or guilty. This is done in connection with all felony and Class A and B misdemeanor prosecutions.

Ideally, by the time of your arraignment, you will have long since retained an attorney to conduct an investigation and look at your case strategically before entering your plea.

Your arraignment can also be waived if your attorney thinks it is not necessary. In that instance, a plea of not guilty is automatically registered on your behalf.

If you appear at your arraignment and you are not represented by a lawyer, the court will ask whether you plan to obtain representation. The court might delay the arraignment, if necessary, to give you more time to arrange for legal representation, but this is not a reason to delay choosing an attorney. A delay only hurts you by giving you less time to prepare a defense; it does not hurt the prosecution, which simply gains more time to prepare to prosecute you.

In many cases, we advise entering a plea of not guilty, even if you are guilty of the charge(s) against you. This gives us more time to work on your case, including determining whether your arrest was lawful or unlawful.

You can always change your plea later, once your lawyer has had the chance to negotiate with the prosecutor, should you and your lawyer decide that pleading guilty makes the most sense in your particular situation.

Once you plead guilty, however, you cannot change your plea back to not guilty, so it is not a decision that should be made lightly. Always consult an experienced defense attorney willing to fight for your rights before deciding to enter a guilty plea.