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Can a district judge drop criminal charges at an arraignment?

Bradford, PA |

My aunt is due to an arraignment soon and she wanted to know if the district judge is able to drop her criminal charges.

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Attorney answers 7


Charges will not be dropped at the arraignment. The charges will be disclosed, bail will be set and a date given for the preliminary hearing. Your aunt needs a criminal defense attorney to represent her.


Mr. Keller is exactly right. The charges will not/can not be dropped by the arraigning magistrate. Securing qualified criminal defense representation is what needs to be done at this point.


A MDJ has no power to drop charges at a preliminary arraignment. His only power is to set bail, explain to your aunt of the charges against her, advise her of her right to counsel and set a preliminary hearing date. Your aunt needs a criminal defense lawyer to represent her at her preliminary hearing. She should speak to a lawyer right away. She does not want to say anything at her preliminary arraignment that could affect her chance for dismissal/reduction of the charges at her preliminary hearing. Good luck.


A bit of clarification here. A Magisterial District Judge does not hold the arraignment but rather a preliminary arraignment. If the charges are felonies then the preliminary arraignment will be shortly after arrest. If they are misdemeanors the preliminary arraignment will very often ( depending upon the county) be at the same time as the Preliminary Hearing. While the MDJ can't drop charges at the preliminary arraignment, he or she can certainly dismiss charges at the preliminary hearing, which as stated above may occur at the same time as the preliminary arraignment. Hopefully your aunt has qualified counsel who will assist her with this matter.

This information does not create an attorney /client relationship and should not be use or relied upon to make any decision in your case. Only consultation with your own attorney can provide you with the advice you need for your case.


No. Charges are not dismissed at an arraignment. To have charges dismissed, a motion to quash must be filed within 10 days of the preliminary hearing. The quash would be heard sometime after arraignment.

Evan Hughes, Esq.


charges are not usually disposed of at "arraignments". At the preliminary hearing, the DJ cannot drop/withdraw the charges, only the Commonwealth can (Assistant DA). The DJ can dismiss the charges. But, this is rare. Talk to a lawyer


Preliminary arraignment is the first step in the criminal process after arrest. You will be brought before the Magisterial District Judge (MDJ) in person, or by video. The judge will give you a copy of the criminal complaint filed by police and advise you of your right to secure counsel. The judge will also collect biographical data from you, such as your address, how long you have lived at that address, your occupation and date of birth. The judge will use this information to set your bail. Your initial bail will be set at the preliminary arraignment. Once bail is set the judge will advise you of your preliminary hearing date. You will have an opportunity to argue for lower bail at the preliminary hearing. If you have not already been fingerprinted and booked, the judge will order you to submit to fingerprinting by police.

Your aunt should get an experienced criminal defense attorney, because the step after the preliminary arraignment is a preliminary hearing. It is at a preliminary hearing where an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to get charges dismissed.

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