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The Arraignment Process in the United States

New York-based lawyer James Kilduff works as a trial attorney at Lazzaro Law Firm, P.C. Specializing in criminal defense, James Kilduff is an experienced lawyer often called upon to provide legal representation for parole and probation violations, plea negotiations, preliminary hearings, and arraignments.

The arraignment is the first step in a trial and may also be referred to as an initial appearance. At an arraignment, the court explains the nature of the charge and penalties to the person charged (defendant) and informs the defendant of their right to trial or trial by jury and to legal counsel. This takes place by way of a formal reading of a document in the presence of the arrested person in a court of law.

Should the charges in question relate to a misdemeanor, the defendant will enter a plea once the reading is complete. This plea will determine the next step in the trial process: the judge may either set a trial date, arrange a sentencing date, or impose appropriate penalties, sentencing, or probation conditions immediately. Should the charge be classified as a felony, the defendant will not enter a plea, but rather the court will schedule a preliminary hearing and the judge will set a bail amount.