COURT FOR THE FIRST TIME

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UNDERSTANDING COURT SERIES

Over the next few months, I will take you through the basics of criminal court.  This series will help you understand the process of criminal court so if you have a current case or if you know someone going through it, you will have some understanding about what that person is facing.

GOING TO COURT FOR THE FIRST TIME

Going to Court for the first time can be extremely scary, especially when facing criminal charges.  The first court appearance is call the Initial Appearance (“IA”).  At the IA, the judge sets a person’s release conditions.  But before going into what that means, I want you to understand that a criminal case is broken up into three parts.

  1. Initial Appearance until Trial.
  2. Trial.
  3. Post-Trial Proceedings.

INITIAL APPEARANCE

The judge at the Initial Appearance decides where a person will spend their time until trial.  The judge is supposed to impose the least onerous release conditions to ensure a person will appear at trial.  Criminal Rule of Procedure 4.1 governs the initial appearance and it reads that “If the initial appearance does not occur within 24 hours after arrest, the arrested person must be immediately released from custody.”

CONDITIONS OF RELEASE

The judge has numerous options at her disposal governed by Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 7.1.

Those options include own recognizance, unsecured appearance bond, secured appearance bond.  Own recognizance means that a person will be released with no supervision since he can be expected to attend trial.  The second type of release is an unsecured appearance bond, which is essentially a promise to pay a certain sum of money of the defendant doesn’t appear at trial.  Finally, a secured appearance bond is an amount of money or property secured by deposit with the clerk of court in the amount of the bond given by the judge.

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