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In most criminal courts the arraignment is where you first appear before a judge and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the offense charged. Assuming you enter a plea of not guilty, which almost every defendant does at this early stage, the following steps also happen at the arraignment:
Most people can handle this proceeding without a lawyer. However, if you can get the court to appoint a lawyer for you without postponing the arraignment, or you are able to arrange for private representation before your arraignment, it's always better to have a lawyer. If you want to consult with a lawyer before your arraignment, or get representation, you can turn to Nolo's trusted Lawyer Directory to find a criminal defense attorney near you.