Initial Appearance

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  • A criminal defendant's first appearance before a judge following an arrest. Usually within hours of an arrest, a defendant will make an initial appearance before a judge. During this initial appearance, the charges are read, the defendant is informed of his or her rights, and a determination is made about pretrial detention (e.g., whether the suspect will be detained, receive bail, or be released on his or her own recognizance). Although they are sometimes separate proceedings, depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the charges, the initial appearance might be combined with the arraignment. The defendant enters his or her formal plea during arraignment.

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