An arraignment is the formal reading of the charge(s) an individual is facing before the courts – stated officially in open court and on the record.
Many people who are facing criminal charges think that they are arraigned on their very first court appearance. However, this is not the case. In the United States, arraignments take place at earlier stage of an individual’s matter but in Canada, an arraignment usually does not take place on a first appearance date.
An arraignment will take place at some stage of the court process. If you proceed with a guilty plea then you will be arraigned on the date that you enter into the guilty plea. If you decide that you wish to have your day in court then you will be arraigned on the first date of your criminal trial, which in many cases does not occur until several months after your first appearance date.
What is involved in an arraignment?
Arraignment is the process in court where either the court clerk or sometimes the Judge will read out loud the charge(s) to which you are proceeding with on that date. After the charge(s) are read, you will be asked by either the court clerk or the Judge as to ‘how you wish to plead to the charge(s) as read?’ If you wish to plead guilty you will so indicate that to the court by saying ‘guilty’. Or, if you are appearing at your trial date then you will indicate ‘not guilty’ to the charges as read. Your answer, either guilty or not guilty, must be stated clearly and loud enough so that the Judge and reporter can hear your answer and be noted for the record.
In some situations, if the matter is proceeding to trial, the Crown Attorney will proceed with one or some of the charges and will later decide how they wish to proceed with the remaining charge(s), usually depending on if you are found guilty or acquittal of the initial charge(s). For example, it is not uncommon for someone to be arrested for both criminal charges as well as Highway Traffic Act (HTA) offences (for example, Impaired Driving pursuant to the Criminal Code and Speeding pursuant to the HTA), however, the Crown Attorney may only wish to proceed with the Impaired Driving charge and ask that the evidence from trial be used in the Speeding offence.
Regardless of what type of charges you are facing, we at Aitken Robertson will help you through your case. Richard Aitken, Justin Marchand and the other lawyers at Aitken Robertson criminal law firm have many years of defending clients in jurisdictions all throughout Ontario.