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What Happens in a New York Arraignment?

The “click” of handcuffs on your wrist may seem surreal for some but reality will set in when they are brought before a judge at arraignment.

Arraignment is the first time a defendant faces a judge. The defendant has the right to have criminal defense counsel represent them at this important hearing.

The Purpose of Arraignment

The judge explains the charges filed against the defendant and outlines their rights. This proceeding also determines whether the defendant is held in custody until trial or is released on bail. The judge may also release a defendant on their own recognizance. The defense attorney can make effective arguments on why the defendant should not be remanded into custody.

A guilty plea is not typically entered except in arraignments for alleged misdemeanor crimes. In a guilty plea, the judge may hand down a sentence immediately or schedule another hearing for that purpose.

Not All Arrests Lead to Arraignment

Prosecutors typically have between 24 and 72 hours to file charges and schedule the defendant for arraignment. These hours between arrest and arraignment are crucial.

Defense counsel plays a critical role. At Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC, we immediately begin investigating the details of the case and the arrest. Our goal is to have the case dismissed before charges are filed or to have charges dismissed at arraignment. The next-best scenario is negotiating reduced charges before or during the arraignment.

Even if charges are not filed, strong legal representation will continue to represent your best interests as investigators and prosecutors work to charge someone with the crime. In New York, prosecutors have up to two years after a misdemeanor crime to press charges. Most felony offenses have a five-year statute of limitations. Some cases, like murder, have no statute of limitations.

Not All Arraignments Lead to Trial

After arraignment, the defendant has the right to a preliminary hearing. Only if probable cause is found at the hearing are charges referred to a grand jury to vote on whether an indictment is warranted. The case may also be referred straight from arraignment to the grand jury.

The grand jury can vote to indict the individual (called a true bill), determine there is not enough evidence to support any indictment (called a no bill), or direct the district attorney to file lesser charges (change a felony to a misdemeanor, for example).

Felony Indictments Have a Second Arraignment

If the grand jury votes to indict, an arraignment is scheduled in a superior court. A judge is assigned to handle the case from arraignment through its conclusion. The prosecutors, criminal defense, and the assigned judge can negotiate through plea bargaining. If no plea bargain is reached, a trial date will be set.

Defendants are entitled to a jury trial where the possible punishment exceeds six months in jail. However, they can waive their right to a jury trial in all felony cases and misdemeanors. This type of trial, where the judge alone determines guilt or innocence, is called a bench trial.

Our Defense Goes on the Offense

Effective defense counsel can change the entire tenor and process of a case. The earlier an attorney is retained, the better.

If you know you are being investigated for a crime, hire our team to begin countering each step made by investigators. We go on the offense, proactively and aggressively laying the groundwork for our client to be removed from suspicion. We conduct our own investigation for a more complete picture that frames the evidence in a manner that best benefits our client.


Our extensive experience can help if you are staring at the possibility of arrest, charges, arraignment, or trial.

Learn more in a consultation. Schedule by contacting us online or calling (516) 218-5131.