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In typical court proceedings, an arraignment occurs when a person goes in front of a judge and is formally advised of what charges are being brought against the defendant. In the larger districts, like New York and Los Angeles, the arraignment occurs at the very beginning of the process and culminates with the defendant entering a plea, usually of “guilty” or “not guilty.”

In South Carolina, it’s a little bit different. What would be the typical “arraignment” here is really more of a bond hearing. The charges are read, yes, but for the specific purpose of determining whether and at what amount a person is granted bail. Defendants are then given a court date for a short time later, at which point they can undergo a bench trial and plead their case in front of a judge or extend the process and request a jury trial.

Our local jurisdiction in Horry County has a more formal arraignment process which happens much later in a case. During our arraignment a person advises the court, in a courtroom, in front of a judge, whether the person is going to accept the plea offer or proceed to trial. This is often called the “plea or arraignment date” because if the person is going to accept the plea offer, they do so on that date and their case is completed. If the person does not accept the plea offer, then they are considered arraigned and their case will proceed to a jury trial.

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