Can You go to Jail at an Arraignment?

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When charged with a crime, one of the earliest stages in the judicial process is the arraignment. Understanding whether this step can result in immediate jail time is critical for defendants preparing for their day in court.

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What is an Arraignment?

An arraignment is a court proceeding where a defendant is formally charged with a crime and asked to enter a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

“At the arraignment, the defendant shall be informed of the charges against them and shall be asked to plead to the charges.” — Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 10

Can You Go to Jail at an Arraignment?

While the primary purpose of an arraignment is not to determine jail time, there are circumstances under which a defendant could be taken into custody:

Bail and Remand Decisions

During the arraignment, bail may be set or denied. If the judge denies bail or sets it higher than the defendant can pay, the defendant might be held in jail until trial.

“The court may order that a defendant be detained prior to trial if no conditions of release can reasonably assure the safety of the community or the defendant’s appearance.” — Bail Reform Act of 1984

Violation of Pre-Arraignment Release Conditions

If the defendant was previously released on their own recognizance or bail and violated conditions of that release, they could be remanded to jail during the arraignment.

Nature of the Charges

For serious felonies or capital crimes, the likelihood of being remanded into custody can be higher, especially if the defendant poses a flight risk or danger to the community.

What to Expect at an Arraignment

  • Rights Reading: The defendant will be informed of their legal rights.
  • Plea Entry: The defendant will enter a plea.
  • Bail Discussion: Bail may be set, modified, or denied.
  • Appointment of Counsel: If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, one may be appointed.


While not common, it is possible for a defendant to be sent to jail at an arraignment, primarily depending on bail decisions and the severity of the charges. Defendants should prepare for this possibility by consulting with legal counsel and understanding the nature of the charges against them.

For further information on arraignment procedures and potential outcomes, individuals should seek legal advice or consult the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.


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