In all counties except Philadelphia, a Preliminary Arraignment is a defendant’s first appearance in front of a judge after having been arrested or having been charged with a crime and issued a Summons and Complaint.
The purpose of a Preliminary Arraignment is for the judge to advise the defendant of the initial charges filed against him/her by the Commonwealth, what the defendant’s rights are in the criminal process and to set bail.
In cases where an individual is arrested, the Preliminary Arraignment may take place by video and will occur within several hours after the defendant’s arrest. If the individual has been charged with a crime and issued a Summons and Complaint, the Preliminary Arraignment will likely take place at the same time as his/her Preliminary Hearing.
While bail is set at the Preliminary Arraignment, it can be modified either upwards or downwards at the Preliminary Hearing. It is always important for a defendant or the defendant’s friend or family members to contact an attorney prior to making arrangements for the payment of bail.