How do I better understand the arraignment\presentment process?
After arrest, an arraignment is the initial appearance in a misdemeanor case, and a presentment is the initial appearance in a felony case. At an arraignment, the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys are present. Arraignments are held in two places:
- US misdemeanor cases are arraigned in Courtroom C10 on the C Street level of the Moultrie Courthouse.
- DC misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases are arraigned in Courtrooms 115, 116 and 120, which are on the first floor of the Moultrie Courthouse. Courtroom assignment is according to the District where the arrest occurred. Felony presentments are also heard in C-10. If someone is charged with both a US matter and a DC matter, they are first arraigned in Courtroom C-10 and then in Courtroom 115, 116 or 120. While most arraignments are held in Courtroom C-10, if the arrest is domestic violence related, the arraignment will be handled in Courtroom 119.
At an arraignment the following occurs:
- The defendant is informed of the charge(s).
- The Court makes a decision regarding whether the defendant will be released or detained pending his or her next court appearance. If the judge determines it appropriate, bond can be required in order to secure the defendant's release.
- If the defendant is released, conditions of release may be imposed in which case the judge explains the release conditions to the defendant.
- The case is assigned to a specific judge and the defendant is informed of the date and courtroom where he/she will be expected to appear.
After a defendant has been arraigned, the next appearance will be before the judge to whom his or her case has been assigned. If a defendant is released, it is important that they return to the court each time they are scheduled to do so. Those who fail to return to court as expected may have a bench warrant issued for failure to appear.
All defendants should maintain contact with the attorney that has been assigned to their case and should feel free to ask them about any aspect of the court proceedings that they do not understand.
The arraignment is not a trial, so the following does not occur:
- Guilt or innocence is not decided.
- No evidence or witnesses are produced.