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Defects Or Delay In Arraignment Process

A failure to comply with arraignment requirements will not necessarily, nor even usually, result in a ruling vacating a conviction or dismissing an indictment. Rather, a defect in the arraignment process (even a failure to arraign the defendant on a charge) will affect a conviction only where actual prejudice resulting from the defect can be shown. Thus, in Garland v. Washington, 232 U.S. 642 (1914), the Supreme Court refused to vacate a conviction despite evidence that a defendant was never arraigned on a count in a superseding information. Disparaging the defendant's due process challenge as a mere "attempt to gain a new trial for want of compliance with what in this case could have been no more than a mere formality," the Court held that, absent proof that the defendant suffered actual injury from the failure to re-arraign on the superseding charge, the conviction would stand.

Similarly, although a delay in a defendant's arraignment may raise serious speedy trial concerns grounded in the Sixth Amendment or statutory law, a reversal or dismissal of the indictment is unlikely for the sole reason that arraignment was delayed. Courts called upon to consider dismissal of an indictment on such grounds typically consider four factors: (1) the length of the delay; (2) the reason for the delay; (3) whether the defendant asserted his rights to a more speedy disposition; and (4) the prejudice to the defendant resulting from the delay (Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972)). Under these and similar standards, the mere passage of time between the return of an indictment and arraignment will not normally be determinative of constitutional speedy trial challenges. Rather, the delay must have actually prejudiced the accused to support such a claim.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawArraignment - Distinction From Initial Appearance And Gerstein Probable Cause Proceeding, Distinction From Other Pretrial Proceedings, Purpose Of Arraignment