Posted on September 23, 2018

The Initial Appearance in Federal Court on Criminal Cases

When you have been arrested or taken into custody by federal agents, ordinarily you appear in court within a few hours. Moreover, agents typically arrest in the morning where you are arraigned in court that same afternoon. The initial appearance is one of the most important hearings in a criminal case.

The initial appearance (also known as your “arraignment”), you appear before the Magistrate Judge and enter a plea – usually “Not Guilty.” Prior to appearing before the Magistrate Judge, you are interviewed by United States Pretrial Services who ask you questions concerning your employment history, property ownership, prior criminal history, and whether you’re married or have children. After being interviewed by Pretrial Services, the court officer will write a report with a recommendation of release. There are several types:

  • Personal Recognizance
  • Unsecured Appearance Bond
  • Secured Appearance Bond
  • Justification and/or Property Bond
  • No Bond / Permanent Detention

After you enter a Not Guilty plea, the case will be assigned to a United States District Judge with a trial date within 60 days. Depending on the conditions of release, you will likely be released a few hours later by the U.S. Marshals. Thereafter, you must periodically check-in with your assigned Pretrial Services officer.

The initial appearance is an extremely important hearing that must be prepared for. It’s not uncommon for friends or family members to attend the hearing and sign on your behalf in support of your release.  Retained an experienced Orange County federal criminal attorney prior to your arrest it critical. Often times, your lawyer can arrange for your surrender versus agents entering your home or work unexpectedly to arrest you.

If you are under investigation by federal authorities, then contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers right away. Early intervention can mean the difference of legally deflecting the government’s case altogether, or having to spend time in federal prison.

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