What should I expect at my first court appearance?

The first court date in a criminal matter is called an arraignment. The judge will briefly advise you of your constitutional rights.  You will be advised of the charges that have been filed against you. These may be different from what you were arrested for.


The prosecutor may file additional or fewer charges than the officer saw fit to charge. You will be asked if you would like to have an attorney and that if you can't afford one, an attorney will be appointed to represent you. Your custody status will be addressed: bail may be set or you may be released on your own recognizance or on pre-trial release.


The judge may put conditions of release on you depending on the nature of the charges as well as your history.  On the issue of bail, sometimes the prosecutor will refer to some of the allegations. It is not appropriate or in your best interest to comment on the facts or allegations. Any comments you make can be used against you at trial.  If you are requesting that the Public Defender's Office be appointed to represent you, you will be required to fill out a financial affidavit to determine if you qualify for their services. 

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1. I think I have a warrant. What should I do?
2. When is my next court date?
3. Should I expect to be remanded into custody?
4. What should I expect at my first court appearance?
5. Can I speak to a public defender before my first appearance?
6. What happens if I'm in custody and the police want to talk to me or to place me in a lineup?
7. How do I get a public defender?
8. Are public defender's "real" lawyers?
9. Should I just hire a private lawyer?
10. How do I contact my public defender?
11. I like a certain attorney. Can I choose who is assigned to my case?
12. I don't like my current deputy public defender. Can I get a new one?
13. How can I expunge a conviction from my record?