Attorney Eric D. Puryear

The Written Arraignment Process in Iowa

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Criminal Law » The Written Arraignment Process in Iowa

The word “arraignment” has a slightly different meaning in each state, but it generally refers to the process of a criminal defendant being told about the charges and formally entering a plea of guilty or not guilty.  Since the plea of “not guilty” is almost always entered (at least at the beginning of a case), and the charges are not really a secret that the defendant is learning at arraignment, the court appearance for an arraignment is often more a matter of a formality than anything of real substance.  The state of Iowa recognizes this, and allows arraignments to be handled in writing as a result.

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An Iowa written arraignment is generally about a page and half long document that goes over basic things, such as the defendant’s name, date of birth, the contact information for the attorney representing the defendant, whether the defendant can read and speak English, and whether the defendant demands a speedy trial (which is a trial within 90 days).  The benefit of a written arraignment in Iowa is that it saves everyone from having to verbally go over those matters in court.  That can save the defendant from having to miss school or work to appear in court.

There is no negative to proceeding with a written arraignment, and a defendant who does not cause any harm to his or her case.  Written arraignments are the norm in many counties, such that the overwhelming majority of cases proceed with a written arraignment instead of an arraignment in open court.  Regardless of whether a case proceeds to written arraignment or an arraignment happens in open court, the case then proceed identically going forward.

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