Arraignment

A proceeding in which a criminal defendant is brought into court, told of the charges in an indictment or information, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.

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Additional Sources

Answers.com

The act of calling and setting a prisoner before a court to answer to an indictment or complaint.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary

In USA criminal law, the formal appearance of an accused person to hear, and to receive a copy of, the charge against him or her, in the presence of a judge, and to then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

In USA criminal law, the formal appearance of an accused person to hear, and to receive a copy of, the charge against him or her, in the presence of a judge, and to then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The arraignment is the final preparatory step before the criminal trial.

Encyclopedia Britannica

In Anglo-American law, first encounter of an accused person with the court prior to trial, wherein he is brought to the bar and the charges against him are read. The accused usually enters a plea of guilt or innocence. If he chooses not to plead, a plea of not guilty will be entered for him. A guilty plea will usually result in the case’s being handed over for judgment. Sometimes the court will permit a guilty plea to be withdrawn.

Law.com Dictionary

The hearing in which a person charged with a crime is arraigned in his or her first appearance before a judge. This is the initial appearance of a criminal defendant (unless continued from an earlier time) in which all the preliminaries are taken care of.

Lect Law Library

The initial appearance before a judge in a criminal case. At an arraignment, the charges against the defendant are read, a lawyer is appointed if the defendant cannot afford one, and the defendant's plea is entered.

Legal-Dictionary.org

The initial appearance of the defendant before the court where charges are read.

Merriam Webster

To call (a defendant) before a court to answer to an indictment.

The Free (Legal) Dictionary

A criminal proceeding at which the defendant is officially called before a court of competent jurisdiction, informed of the offense charged in the complaint, information, indictment, or other charging document, and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or as otherwise permitted by law. Depending on the jurisdiction, arraignment may also be the proceeding at which the court determines whether to set bail for the defendant or release the defendant on his or her own recognizance.

Wikipedia

Arraignment is a formal reading of a criminal complaint in the presence of the defendant to inform the defendant of the charges against him or her. In response to arraignment, the accused is expected to enter a plea. Acceptable pleas vary among jurisdictions, but they generally include "guilty", "not guilty", and the peremptory pleas (or pleas in bar) setting out reasons why a trial cannot proceed.