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Chicago Arraignment Attorney


Before you may be required to stand trial in criminal court you must be arraigned. An arraignment is a proceeding in open court where you are presented with and read the formal charge(s) against you. This occurs after the preliminary hearing or grand jury indictment and bond hearing, but before trial.

You have  the right to counsel at the arraignment. A court will allow you time to retain and consult with counsel by continuing the arraignment for a reasonable amount of time. If you cannot afford counsel, then counsel—an attorney with the public defender’s office or a private licensed attorney—will be appointed to represent the you  at no cost.


At the arraignment, you must enter a plea—a formal statement of not guilty, guilty, or guilty but mentally ill. A plea entered at arraignment should not be confused with plea agreements or plea bargains which have different meanings. If you plead not guilty at arraignment, you may change your plea later during the proceedings.


At any time, you may enter a plea of guilty with or without a formal plea agreement. A guilty plea will not be accepted until the court explains to you  the consequences of pleading guilty and ensures there is a factual basis for pleading guilty.

These consequences include giving up certain constitutional rights and the judge must question you in open court to ensure that the you understands the rights. This explanation includes a statement of the maximum penalty provided by law that the court may impose. If you maintain a guilty plea and the judge believes the plea was made freely and knowingly, the plea will be accepted by the court. Without a plea agreement, the judge determines the sentence. This kind of plea is often called a blind plea, open plea, or cold plea. 

Not guilty

You  may enter a plea of not guilty at the arraignment. If you chooses not to speak at all, a not guilty plea is presumed and entered. After a plea of not guilty, the case will move ahead to trial. If you  fail to appear in court, you will waive the right to confront witnesses, and you may be tried in your absence.

Guilty but mentally ill

If a you plead guilty but mentally ill, a series of examinations and hearings must take place to determine whether you were mentally ill at the time of the offense. You will be required to undergo an examination by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist who will produce a report for the court. A hearing will be held on the issue of your mental condition. If the court finds that you were  mentally ill at the time of the offense, the plea is accepted and entered.

Chicago Arraignment Attorney

Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer William Carlos Weeden will work to protect your rights throughout the entire criminal process from bail hearing through potential trial, all with compassion and understanding.  Whether the goal is to challenge police procedure, negotiate a fair plea deal for the case, or to fight the charges at trial, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney William Carlos Weeden is with you every step of the way. Contact our office at (773) 683-1060, to see how an Illinois Criminal Defense lawyer can help protect your freedom.

Law Office of William Carlos Weeden

The information on this website has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship or warrant that a certain result will be attained in a specific case. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois. We encourage you to contact us or another legal professional for advice regarding your individual situation.

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