An Arraignment is the first time the charges are read before a judge or jury. Each charge is read to you separately. You will also be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not-guilty for each of the charges.
Arraignment will occur more than once for each criminal trial.
When does an arraignment take place?
An arraignment occurs after you have been committed for trial or sentencing in the District Court by the Local Court. Generally in a criminal trial arraignment can take place on 3 separate occasions.
- You will be arraigned before a judge in the district court at first mention.
- You will be arraigned during the pre-trial hearing. Pre-trial hearing is when questions of law are dealt with. Some examples of questions of law include, whether the court has the power to hear the case and the admissibility of evidence.
- You will again be arraigned in front of the jury before trial commences.
An arraignment before the jury panel is the formal commencement of the trial.
What happens if I plead guilty?
If you enter a plea of guilty to any of the charges, then you will be given a sentence hearing date.
What happens if I plead not-guilty?
If you elect to plead not-guilty than a trial date will normally be set. If you are represented at that time and the prosecution can confirm the date, the trial date will be fixed.
What happens if I don’t submit a plea?
If you do not answer directly to the charges read in court, the court may order a plea of “not guilty” to be entered on behalf of you.
The effect of this plea will have the same effect as if you had actually entered a plea of “not guilty”.
Can I represent myself?
You have the right to represent yourself.
However, the trial judge has the duty to make sure that you are well informed and will be able to exercise your legal rights during the trial. The judge will not tell you how should exercise your rights, for example, whether to plead guilty or not-guilty.
WHERE TO NEXT?
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.