How do I better understand the arraignment\presentment process?After arrest, an arraignment is the initial appearance in a misdemeanor case, and a presentment is the initial appearance in a felony case. At an arraignment, the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys are present. Arraignments are held in two places:
- U.S. misdemeanor cases are arraigned in Courtroom C10 on the C Street level of the Moultrie Courthouse.
- D.C. misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases are arraigned in Courtroom-115, which is on the first floor of the Moultrie Courthouse. Felony presentments are also handled in C10. If someone is charged with both a U.S. matter and a D.C. matter, they are first arraigned in courtroom C10 and then in courtroom 115. While most arraignments are held in Courtroom C-10, there are three specialized misdemeanor courtrooms—DC/Traffic Community Court, East of the River Community Court, and Domestic Violence Court where arraignments are also heard, depending on the charges for which a defendant has been arrested and/or where the arrest occurred.
At an arraignment the following occurs:
- The defendant is informed of the charge(s).
- The Court makes a decision regarding whether the defendant will be released or detained pending his or her next court appearance. If the judge determines it appropriate, bond can be required in order to secure the defendant's release.
- If the defendant is released, conditions of release may be imposed in which case the judge explains the release conditions to the defendant.
- The case is assigned to a specific judge and the defendant is informed of the date and courtroom where he/she will be expected to appear.
- After a defendant has been arraigned, the next appearance will be before the judge to whom his or her case has been assigned. If a defendant is released, it is important that they return to the court each time they are scheduled to do so. Those who fail to return to court as expected may have a bench warrant issued for failure to appear.
- All defendants should maintain contact with the attorney that has been assigned to their case and should feel free to ask them about any aspect of the court proceedings that they do not understand.
The arraignment is not a trial, so the following does not occur:
- Guilt or innocence is not decided.
- No evidence or witnesses are produced.