What is an initial appearance?

One of the first things we handle for our criminal defense clients is often entering a “waiver” of their initial appearance. So what is an initial appearance and why do we normally not have them?

An initial appearance is the first time a person charged with a crime goes to see a judge. The “initial” as we often call it is a hearing where the judge makes sure that a criminal defendant understands what crime they are charged with, knows their Constitutional rights, has a bail amount set, and knows their future court dates. It is also where a person formally says “not guilty.”  (And you ALWAYS plead not guilty at the initial appearance!) It is essentially a “housekeeping” hearing where the judge makes sure the defendant knows what all is going on. 

Many times, our criminal defense clients who are charged with misdemeanors are released from custody before an initial appearance can be held. In those instances, the court will schedule the initial appearance for another date in the future, sometimes weeks away from the arrest.  

When our clients are not in jail, going to court means taking time off of work and away from family to focus on a rather unpleasant situation. Thankfully, we are able to contact the court, let them know we represent the client, and handle all of the scheduling matters ourselves without having the actual initial appearance in court. This saves our clients the trouble of going to court and makes the process much smoother. 

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, do not hesitate to reach out to us to see if we can help. We’ve provided countless clients peace of mind and know how to navigate the criminal justice system to give you the same. 

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