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The Defendant’s Initial Court Appearance |

The Defendant’s Initial Court Appearance

The first appearance in court of a person charged with a criminal offense is different from the “arraignment,” which takes place some time later. The arraignment is where the defendant formally enters a plea to the charges. At this point, you should already have been counseled by a South King County criminal lawyer as to your rights. At the initial court appearance, which takes place a short time after the defendant is arrested and booked, a lower court judge or magistrate considers the charges and decides if there is probable cause to keep you in custody.

In some jurisdictions, there may not even be a lawyer or prosecutor present at the initial appearance. If you do already have a South King County criminal lawyer, though, it is definitely to your advantage to exercise your constitutional right to have an attorney present. If you do not already have an attorney to represent you, the court is obligated to appoint one for you.

In addition to having an attorney appointed if you don’t already have one, there are several additional rights you should assert at the initial court appearance. You are entitled to receive a copy of all the charges against you, as well as a full explanation of these charges. The court should fully inform you of all your rights, including not only your right to counsel but also your right to remain silent. The court should fix a bail amount in your case and set a date for your preliminary hearing. A knowledgeable South King County criminal lawyer can effectively advise you on these rights and what they mean for you and your case while ensuring that you remain protected against any efforts to ignore or disregard these rights.

Once counsel is appointed, the police also cannot try and get you to make a statement or run lineups with you in them, unless your South King County criminal lawyer is present to represent you when they take these steps.

The results of your criminal case may depend on how your lawyer acts at each critical juncture during the proceedings against you. If you’ve been charged with a crime, or of you know you are going to be, talk to South King County criminal lawyer South King County criminal attorney immediately to ensure that all your rights are respected and defended every step of the way.

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