The first court appearance after arrest is at the arraignment. At arraignment the judge decides if there is enough information to move the case forward in the criminal justice system. Usually the person being charged with a crime appears before a judge and pleads guilty, not guilty, no contest (nolo contendre) or chooses to stand mute. If the person pleads not guilty or stands mute, this is the time to request a public defender or court appointed lawyer.
For persons with cognitive/communication disabilities, arraignment should not occur until a lawyer is in place. This will not happen without advocacy from the person his/herself, an interested third party (friend, family, advocate, supports coordinator, teacher) or both.
Before the arraignment is done, the judge will
schedule the next court date which is known as the Pre-Trial Hearing.
Most arraignments occur quite quickly after there has been an
All of the court dates to follow may be
scheduled weeks or months into the future, so be pre pared for a lengthy
process. The judge conducting the arraignment may not be the
judge who is in charge of all the court dates held after the arraignment.
Written by: Melissa King,
Attorney-at-Law, King Law Offices; Karen Wolf-Branigin,
Wayne State University, Developmental Disabilities
Institute; Rachel Pinsky Law Graduate,
Wayne State University; Robert Lasker, Belinda Land, Vendalia
Collins, Cheryle Trommater, Marsha Katz,