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Arraignment is usually a criminal defendant's first appearance in court or before a judge on a criminal charge. Pre-arraignment meeting could refer to a conference or meeting that is held within specific days of return of an indictment or unsealing of an indictment. It is scheduled by Criminal Division Staff. At the pre-arraignment conference the defendant shall be informed of the charges; notified in writing of the date, place and time for the arraignment/status conference; and, if the defendant so requests, be allowed to apply for pretrial intervention.
Prior to this conference, discovery or evidence is available to defense counsel. This exchange of evidence provides the defense with an opportunity to review the evidence the prosecution intends to use against the accused prior to the conference. After reviewing the discovery provided prior to the pre arraignment conference, defendants may decide to apply for pretrial intervention, or to enter plea bargain negotiations.
Defendants who are not yet represented may apply for public defender representation at this point. If a defendant does not appear for a pre-arraignment conference, the criminal division manager shall notify the criminal presiding judge who may issue a bench warrant. However, no pre-arraignment conference is required if the defendant is represented by counsel and the criminal division manager's office has established to its satisfaction: that an appearance has been filed; that discovery, if requested, has been obtained; and that defendant and counsel have obtained a date, place and time for the arraignment/status conference.