The defendant's first appearance before a judge is for an arraignment. The arraignment is the process by which the defendant is formally notified of the charges that have been filed against him. However, there are additional determinations and notifications at the arraignment as well.


The most important decision the judge will make at an arraignment is whether to set bail, release the defendant on his own recognizance (ROR), or hold the defendant in jail without bail (remand). The court will hear from both the prosecutor and defendant's attorney and will consider factors such as the defendant's criminal history (or the lack thereof), the seriousness of the charges, and the defendant's community ties. If bail is set and the bail is not posted for the defendant, the New York City Department of Corrections detains him in jail until the next court date.

For more information see the Bail section.


The prosecutor will often give notice to the defendant, as required by law, of certain evidence and procedures relevant to the case. For example if the prosecutor intends to use any statement or identification of the defendant the law requires that the defendant be given notice within fifteen days after arraignment. The prosecutor may also give notice that the case will be considered by a Grand Jury. Likewise, the defendant's attorney may serve notice upon the prosecutor of the defendant's intention to testify before the Grand Jury. The prosecutor may also demand notice of any alibi the defendant intends to offer.

Possible Disposition at Arraignment

When the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor or violation he has the option to plead guilty to the charge at the arraignment. In some less-serious cases the prosecutor may offer a plea-bargain to the defendant at the arraignment.

Orders of Protection

In cases where violence against a particular person is alleged, the judge may issue an order of protection. There are essentially two kinds of orders of protection. A "full" order of protection requires the defendant to stay away from the person named in the order, including their home, school, and business, and prohibits any communication whatsoever with the person named in the order, including third-party contact. A "limited" order allows for contact between the defendant and the person named in the order but prohibits the defendant from assaulting, harassing, threatening or endangering the person named in the order. An order of protection is an order of the court and can only be modified or terminated by the court, irrespective of the wishes of the person named in the order. A violation of an order of protection is considered contempt of court and subjects the defendant to additional charges.

For more information see the Orders of Protection section.

After Arraignment

Once a defendant has been arraigned, his case will rarely go straight to trial. There are invariably a number of legal issues which must be addressed before trial. To this end, misdemeanor and violation cases are typically adjourned from arraignments into an All-Purpose Part (AP Part) in Criminal Court. In the All-Purpose Part legal motions are made and future court dates are scheduled. Felony cases are typically adjourned for the announcement of Grand Jury action or for possible disposition.

Unless the case is disposed of at the arraignment, it will be adjourned, that is, continued on a future date. The defendant must appear on all future dates designated by the court. If a defendant fails to appear, the judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant's arrest and return to court.