An arraignment is a court hearing where the charges are formally read to the defendant and the defendant enters an initial plea of guilty or not guilty.
It is merely a preliminary proceeding. No testimony or evidence is produced at an arraignment. At the arraignment, a tentative pre-trial and trial date is scheduled. Arraignments are open to the public.
The majority of arraignments are handled in writing, before the scheduled time, and no appearance is made at the arraignment by the defendant or defense counsel.
The pre-trial conference is a meeting involving the court, the prosecuting attorney, and the defendant’s attorney. It is primarily a scheduling conference during which time the trial is scheduled. During the pre-trial conference, the court is advised as to the anticipated length of trial and the primary issues involving the court. The Court is also advised whether there are any pending motions or depositions to be completed. If the defendant decides to enter a plea of guilty rather than go to trial, the plea may be taken at the time of the pre-trial conference or scheduled at another date. Pleas and sentencing are open to the public.