OpenJurist

What happens in the first court appearance?

Early in the course of a criminal proceeding, the defendant will be brought into court and the charges brought against him or her by the government will be formally read. The defendant will be asked by the court whether he or she pleads guilty or not guilty to the charges. At that stage of the proceeding, the defendant is expected to have an attorney unless he or she has waived his or her right to have an attorney. If the defendant cannot afford to have an attorney and meets the local guidelines for the appointment of counsel, then the court will appoint an attorney to represent him or her in that criminal case.

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