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What Is Going To Happen At My First Court Appearance?

For many people, the thought of appearing in court for criminal charges is terrifying. What will happen? What will the judge say? What should I say? Am I going to jail?

At your first appearance in court on a criminal charge, generally four things happen. First, the judge will ask if you are the person named in the complaint. Second, the judge will make sure that you have been advised of and understand your constitutional rights. Third, the judge will ask if you understand the charges against you. Last, the judge will set release conditions. READ MORE...

Release conditions are what the court will require of you to remain out of custody while your case is pending. Release conditions vary with each individual case. They can include:

  • No use of mood altering chemicals, including alcohol
  • No possession of mood altering chemicals, including alcohol
  • Submit to random testing
  • No contact with a party or property
  • Remain law abiding
  • Complete booking
  • Do not leave the state
  • Make all future court appearances
  • Post some amount of bail or bond

If you aren't released on your promise to return, the court will give you the option of posting either unconditional bail or conditional bail. In setting this bail, the court considers two factors: 1) the likelihood that you will reappear for court, and 2) whether you are a threat to public safety.

Unconditional bail is always a higher amount. If you post unconditional bail, your release conditions generally will be that you simply keep in contact with your attorney and show up for your next court appearance.

Conditional bail is typically a lower amount than unconditional bail. If you post conditional bail, then you will be subject to any conditions the court imposes upon you. See above for examples of conditions.

It is advisable to have an attorney represent you at your first appearance. At your first appearance, the court is meeting you for the first time on these charges. It may not know any details of who you are and what your situation is. Your attorney can make arguments that address the concerns of the court and inform the judge as to why you are not a flight risk, nor are you a threat to public safety. If you are scheduled to appear in court for your first appearance or any appearance, give Migala Law Office a call for a free consultation.

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