What is an arraignment?

Once the prosecutor files an indictment against you, you will appear before the magistrate judge to be arraigned on the formal charges. For some people, their initial appearance and their arraignment will happen on the same day if they are arrested after an indictment is filed. You will be asked to read and sign a statement of your constitutional rights. The magistrate judge will also read a statement of your constitutional rights. The magistrate judge will ask if you understand what the prosecutor claims that you did.  You then will be asked to enter a plea to the charges. Unless you have previously worked out a deal with the prosecution before your arraignment, you will generally enter a not guilty plea at your arraignment. Your case then will be randomly assigned by computer to a district judge who will preside over the rest of your case.  Some judges prefer to handle arraignments themselves, so if you are assigned to one of those judges, he or she will perform the arraignment.