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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...


Arraignment is the court event in an indictable criminal matter where the charges are read before a judge and the accused is asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty for each charge. Arraignments in New South Wales are governed by the Criminal Procedure Act 1983. This article outlines the law surrounding arraignment in New South Wales.

When does an arraignment take place?

An arraignment occurs after a person has been committed to the District Court or Supreme Court.

The charges may be read by the Judge’s Associate or by the Judge themself. The accused will be asked to enter a plea in relation to each charge.

If the accused enters a plea of guilty to any of the charges at arraignment, then they will be given a sentence hearing date. On that date, the court will decide on the appropriate sentencing order/s in light of the legislative maximum and minimum penalties, the circumstances of the offence and the circumstances of the offender.

If the accused pleads not guilty at arraignment, then a trial date will normally be set. If the accused is legally represented and the prosecution can confirm the date, the trial date will be fixed. Criminal trials are generally heard by a judge and jury in New South Wales; however, trials by judge alone sometimes occur when circumstances mean that this is appropriate.

If the accused does not answer directly to the charges read in court, this amounts to ‘refusal to plead’ under section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Act. In this situation, the court may order a plea of “not guilty” to be entered on their behalf.

Can I represent myself?

A person charged with criminal offences has the right to represent themself.

However, the trial judge has the duty to make sure that the accused is well informed and will be able to exercise their legal rights during the trial. If an accused person is unrepresented at the arraignment, the judge may ask for the matter to be adjourned in order for them to obtain legal advice and representation. This is particularly likely to occur if it appears that the accused is inadequately prepared or if there are complex legal issues involved.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.


If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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