If you have been arrested for a criminal offense, you have not been found guilty. The court has to make a finding of your guilt, either through a full trial, or through a plea entered by you. The very first appearance you make in Court is called an Arraignment.
At the Arraignment, the following things will happen:
- You will be asked to enter a plea, whether it is guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
- You will be read the offense you are being charged with and the potential consequences you may face
- You will have the opportunity to talk to the Prosecutor regarding the charges against you
- You will be offered a plea bargain in exchange for your guilty plea
The arraignment is a court ordered appearance. If you are given a citation, it will state on the citation the date you must appear in court. If you fail to appear, it is a court violation referred to as a Failure to Appear.
When you fail to appear in Court, the Judge will order a Bench Warrant. A bench warrant allows officers or other authorities to arrest you at any time and take you into custody. It is highly advisable that if you have failed to appear in court, that you appear as soon as possible to explain your failure to appear to the Judge and hope that the Judge recalls the Bench Warrant.