An arraignment is generally your first appearance in court for a criminal citation or charge. During the arraignment the Judge will inform you of the charges and of your rights, which include:
- To have a lawyer present with you at all hearings.
- To have a lawyer appointed at public expense if you cannot afford to hire one to represent you.
- To represent yourself without a lawyer.
- To a public and speedy trial.
- To cross examine any witness who testifies against you.
- To call witnesses to testify on your behalf, and have the Court compel their attendance.
- To testify or not testify yourself. If you choose not to, no one can make you testify.
- To appeal if you are convicted after a not guilty plea.
At that time, the Judge will ask you whether you plead “guilty” or “not-guilty”. If you plead “guilty” the Judge may then impose a sentence and fines against you or may wait until another hearing. If you plead “not-guilty” then the Judge will set a date for your trial and/or a date for the next hearing.