The Criminal Process
Is there a difference between the initial appearance and the arraignment?
There is at the federal level. In a federal criminal case the federal rules of criminal procedure require “a person making an arrest within the United States must take the defendant without unnecessary delay before a magistrate judge or before a state or local judicial officer.” This must take place very soon after the arrest. The arraignment then takes place later.
Federal Requirements at Arraignment: Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 10(a) states the following:
(1) ensuring that the defendant has a copy of the indictment or information;
(2) reading the indictment or information to the defendant or stating to the defendant the substance of the charge; and then
(3) asking the defendant to plead to the indictment or information.