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What is an arraignment? What the legal proceeding means ahead of Trump's appearance Thursday.

In April, Donald Trump became the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges after a New York grand jury voted to indict him. In June, Trump was indicted a second time for allegedly mishandling classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago. On Tuesday, Trump was indicted a third time.

Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to steal the 2020 election from President Joe Biden, including the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

Now that Trump has been indicted, what happens next?

Trump is expected to be arraigned in a courtroom Thursday. But what does this mean? Here is what to know about an arraignment. 

What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is when formal charges against the accused are read by the judge. This proceeding is the first time the accused appears before a judge and is told about the specific charges they are facing. 

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What happens at an arraignment? 

At an arraignment, the judge identifies the defendant by name and reads the official charges. The accused is asked how they want to plead and are told about their right to be represented by a lawyer. 

The judge will then decide if bail is required for the defendant to be released. The judge can decide to set no bail. In this scenario, the defendant is immediately released without being placed in jail. 

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What does plea mean? 

A plea is the defendant's formal response to the charges made by someone in a criminal case.

If someone pleads "guilty," they are admitting to committing the crime they were charged with. Depending on the crime, they may go to jail if pleading guilty. 

If someone pleads "not guilty," they are denying the accused crimes. In this case, the defendant will go on trial while the prosecution will work to prove their involvement "beyond a reasonable doubt every part of the offense." 

Can you go to jail at an arraignment? 

There is the potential for a defendant to go to jail after an arraignment. At an arraignment, the judge decides if bail will be set. If the defendant cannot meet the conditions of bail, then they would likely be confined to jail while awaiting trial.  

Difference between indictment, arraignment and arrest

An indictment is a formal charge of a crime. It is a decision by a grand jury that the prosecutors can continue with a case against the defendant. It is not a conviction. 

An arrest is when a person is taken into custody. 

An arraignment is when formal charges against the accused are read by the judge for the first time.

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