What is an Initial Appearance?
If you're arrested for a crime and taken into custody, you'll be seen by a Judge within 24 hours for a hearing that's called an Initial Appearance. If you're wondering what an initial appearance is, I'm here to explain.
An initial appearance is one of the first hearings that's conducted in a criminal case. When a defendant is taken into custody, it has to be conducted within 24 hours. And, if a defendant is summonsed to come to court, it will be designated at a particular time before the Judge. So, when a defendant is taken into custody, they have to see the Judge within 24 hours. The Judge would have to make a couple of determinations at the initial appearance.
So, the Judge will advise the defendant of their right to counsel. The Judge will advise the defendant of their right to remain silent. Then the Judge will make this determination if the defendant can afford an attorney. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, they Judge will appoint one for them.
Now, at this point, the Judge will also set release conditions. The Judge will determine what release conditions are appropriate by the seriousness of the crime, the defendant's criminal history or history of failure to appear. And, the Judge will also consider their community ties to the community. So, this all—this determination is made to determine if the defendant is a flight risk. So, the Judge will then set release conditions.
Now, most defendants don't have an attorney at an initial appearance because they have not made the arrangements to get one and they have not been appointed an attorney yet. But, if you do know someone that has just been arrested and they're going to have an initial appearance, sometimes it is their best interest to get an attorney because the release conditions and how much the bond is going to be set is going to be determined at that initial appearance.
So, if the case is a misdemeanor, the Judge will set the case for a Pre-Trial Conference. If the case is a felony, the Judge will set the matter for what's called a Preliminary Hearing. I've made another video about that.