Difference Between an Arraignment and an Indictment (With Table)

There are lots of crimes happening in the world. All the victims of the crime will be presented in front of the court, and the formalities will begin. There are many formalities available, and the two most important formalities in confirming the crimes are arraignment, and the other one is an indictment. These two will help the judge and the jury to address the crime. 

Arraignment vs Indictment

The difference between an Arraignment and an Indictment is that an arraignment, a pre-trial, will take place, and the judge will be present. In the indictment, a charge will be passed if a person commits any serious crime. In arraignment, the custody will take place depending upon the seriousness of the crime. In the indictment, the person will be arrested. 

An arraignment is called a pre-trial, where you will hear from a judge. It will help the defendants to learn about the charges and the constitutional rights that are placed on them. You have to wear a proper outfit when you go for an arraignment. Even when you get bail during an arraignment, you cannot leave the state without getting any further notice from the court. 

An indictment means having a formal accusation that will indicate the case. For federal offenses, they will indict you for five years. In case of state offense, they can indict you for three years. You can check whether you got indicted or not by visiting the federal courthouse, which is near to your place. The terminal will search and tell whether you got indicted or not. 

Comparison Table Between an Arraignment and an Indictment

Parameters of ComparisonArraignmentIndictment
DefinitionIt is like a pre-trial which will take place with a judgeAn indictment will be charged if a person commits any serious crimes
TimingIt will take place after indicting an individualIt will precede the arraignment
ConsequencesThe individual can be sometimes demanded custodyThe individual will get arrested
PurposeThe court will formally present the charges to the person who got accusedIt is a legal document that will state the criminal behavior of an individual
Legal representationIt will legally provide the attorneyBefore they get indicted, they don’t need to provide legal or attorney

What is an Arraignment?

Arraignment is to inform the defendant about the criminal charges that are pressed against them. Here it will be their first court appearance in front of a judge. The charges on the defendants will be filed here. Both legal and constitutional rights will be put up here. They will be allowed to speak up whether they are guilty about the case or not. This will release whether they can be released or they will be given a speedy trial.

Having an arraignment will affect your reputation. Because you will feel guilty whether you made a mistake or not. In the end, you will be allowed to explain yourself. But once arraignment happens, the case will be made a conviction. So, the records will be maintained. It would be better if you didn’t have any cases of arraignment. If you don’t plead guilty during your arraignment case, then they will see whether any evidence is left or not.

Once they find any evidence against you, then the case will proceed further. If a person pleads guilty, then the case will get sentenced. Otherwise, the case will not get sentenced. It is not compulsory to have a lawyer during your arraignment. If you feel like you want to have one and it will help in improving your case, then you can have a lawyer by your side. Also, having a lawyer will important you in several other ways. 

What is an Indictment?

An indictment will be charged when a person commits a serious crime. Once a person gets indicted, the court will send a formal notice to that person that the crime they have committed has got evidence. This will confirm their crime. Here the grand jury will listen to all the witnesses who are present in the court. After that, they will decide whether the person who committed a crime is real or not. Being in jail will be determined by the court.

If the court decides that the person should remain in jail, then they should remain in jail. Otherwise, they don’t have to be in jail. They can be outside but should not leave that particular place. All these decisions will be made early in the trial process itself. In indication, a grand jury only will file charges against you. No other person can file a charge against you. An indictment is very serious, and you cannot take it lightly.

Having an indictment will affect your reputation in many ways. Because the grand jury has to just wait for the witness to confirm the crime. You can even beat the indictment with the help of your lawyer. There are three options available for beating an indictment. You can choose the one that suits you and is recommended by your lawyer. As they are experienced ones, they will help you in beating the indictment faster. 

Main Differences Between an Arraignment and an Indictment

  1. An arraignment is a pre-trial where the judge will be present. On the other hand, an indictment is charged on a person if they commit any serious crime. 
  2. Arraignment will take place once the individual got indicted. On the other hand, the indictment will precede the arraignment.
  3. In arraignment, the individual can be either taken into custody depending upon the seriousness of the case. On the other hand, in the indictment, the individual will be arrested.
  4. In arraignment, the court will legally pass the charges for the person. On the other hand, in the indictment, a legal document will be shared with all the details of the criminal behavior.
  5. For arraignment, they have to provide a legal attorney. For indictment, they don’t have to provide any legal attorney.


Both these are very serious, and they should not be taken lightly. Having a lawyer is their choice, and they have to decide whether to keep one or not. But in many several cases having one will help them in difficult situations. Because they are experienced persons and they will know what to do and how to process the case in case they want to beat the indictment.

Most people used to have a lawyer with them to proceed with the case. To become an arraignment or indictment lawyer, one should take law subjects in their higher studies and do many case studies in them. It will help them to get some good experience, and they can succeed well in their professional life. 


  1. https://stec.univ-ovidius.ro/html/anale/ENG/2016/2016-II-full/s3/1.pdf
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/mnlr45&section=42
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