An accused in a criminal case who is charged with a misdemeanor need not personally appear at the arraignment hearing, but may appear through an attorney. A written waiver of the defendant’s personal appearance is not required. Defense counsel’s verbal representations that counsel is authorized to appear on the defendant’s behalf are sufficient to establish a knowing waiver of the defendant’s right to be present.
Domestic violence exception. A defendant charged with a misdemeanor involving domestic violence or a misdemeanor violation of Penal Code §273.6 (violation of protective order), must be present at arraignment and sentencing, and at any time during the proceedings when ordered by the court for the purpose of being informed of the conditions of a Penal Code §136.2 protective order.
Also, according to one Bakersfield DUI Attorney, in drunk driving cases the law provides an exception. The court may, in an appropriate case, order a defendant charged with a misdemeanor offense involving driving under the influence to be present at arraignment, at the time of plea, or at sentencing. The court may permit the arraignment to be conducted by two-way electronic audio-video communication between the defendant and the courtroom in place of the defendant’s appearance in the courtroom. A defendant who participates in a video arraignment must sign a written waiver of the right to appear. If the defendant is represented by counsel, the attorney must be present with the defendant at the video arraignment, and may enter a plea during the arraignment.