First Court Appearance at the Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach CA

February 4, 2023

If you have been charged with a crime, your first court appearance can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. Whether you are facing a felony or a misdemeanor, it’s important to understand what you can expect when you appear in court for the first time. Here is a guide to the first court appearance for both felony and misdemeanor cases at the Harbor Justice Center.

Felony Cases


If you have been charged with a felony, your first court appearance is called an arraignment. During this hearing, the judge will inform you of the charges against you, and you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you enter a plea of not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a preliminary hearing. If you enter a plea of guilty, you will be sentenced immediately.

At the arraignment, you may also have the opportunity to request a public defender if you are unable to afford a private attorney. If you are not appointed a public defender at the arraignment, you can request one at any time during the legal process.

Misdemeanor Cases


If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, your first court appearance is also an arraignment. During this hearing, the judge will inform you of the charges against you, and you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you enter a plea of not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a pretrial hearing. If you enter a plea of guilty, you will be sentenced immediately.

Like in a felony case, at the arraignment you may also have the opportunity to request a public defender if you are unable to afford a private attorney. If you are not appointed a public defender at the arraignment, you can request one at any time during the legal process.

What to Expect at the Arraignment

Regardless of whether you are facing a felony or a misdemeanor, the arraignment is typically a relatively brief hearing. Here is what you can expect during your first court appearance at the Harbor Justice Center:

  • You will not be called to the witness stand before the judge.
  • The judge will read the charges against you and ask you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
  • If you enter a plea of not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a pretrial hearing or a preliminary hearing, depending on whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony.

It’s important to note that the arraignment is not the time to present evidence or argue your case. That will come later in the legal process.

What to Wear to Your First Court Appearance


When you appear in court for the first time, it’s important to dress appropriately. This shows the judge and the court that you take the proceedings seriously and that you respect the legal system. Here are some tips for dressing appropriately for your first court appearance:

  • Wear clean and conservative clothing.
  • Avoid wearing revealing or inappropriate clothing.
  • Dress professionally, as if you were going to a job interview.
  • Remove any hats or sunglasses when you enter the courtroom.

What to Bring to Your First Court Appearance


When you appear in court for the first time, it’s important to bring all the necessary documents and information with you. This will ensure that the proceedings go smoothly and that you are prepared to represent yourself effectively. Here is a list of what to bring to your first court appearance:

  • A copy of the complaint or summons that you received.
  • Any paperwork or documents related to the case.
  • A pen and notebook to take

Contact a Newport Beach Criminal Defense Attorney


If you are seeking legal representation for a case at the Harbor Justice Center, then give the Law Offices of John D. Rogers a call today. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Attorney John D. Rogers is an accomplished Newport Beach criminal defense attorney and board-certified criminal law specialist. He is among the few Orange County criminal defense lawyers who have achieved board certification in criminal law. It instills confidence in his clients that his professional experience, reputation, and ethics are among the highest in the legal community.

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