What is an Initial Appearance in a Criminal Case in Idaho?


The first time someone accused of a crime sees a judge will be at an “Initial Appearance.”  The initial appearance is important because the judge will tell you why you were arrested, what your rights are, and if necessary, appoint counsel for you. This is not a court appearance where you have to plead "guilty" or "not guilty" it is just an opportunity for you to be made aware of what is going on.

When Must an Initial Appearance Occur?

When you are arrested, the law requires that you go in front of a judge without “unreasonable delay,” which is normally no more than 24 hours, excluding weekends and holidays. However, there are circumstances where the court can delay your appearance beyond the 24 hours.

What is Required at an Initial Appearance?

During your Initial Appearance, the judge must advise you of important rights. These rights are:

  1. You are not required to make a statement and any statement you make can be used against you;
  2. What is the charge or charges against you;
  3. Your right to bail;
  4. Your right to an attorney;
  5. Your right to a preliminary hearing, what a preliminary hearing is, and the impact of waiving your preliminary hearing, and
  6. Your right to communicate with your attorney and your immediate family.

Can I Bond Out After an Initial Appearance?

Once the judge has told you your rights, he or she will set a bail amount for you. If you were arrested with a warrant, the warrant will say what the bail amount must be and you can usually bond out before seeing a judge if you have the money. In these circumstances, where you have posted bail, you will get a date from the court telling you when you need to return to see the judge.  

Initial Appearance on an Indictment: 

You potentially could be arrested with a warrant because you have been indicted by a grand jury. This process is like a regular Initial Appearance. You still must go in front of a judge within 24 hours following your arrest, excluding weekends and holidays. The rights you must be advised of are the same; however, the judge must also inform you of the date you will be arraigned on the charges.

The Importance of Having an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Initial Appearance:

The Initial Appearance is the first step in taking control of your case. This is the first time you will be in front of a judge and first impressions can go a long way in this process. In choosing a Boise criminal defense lawyer to help with your charges, you’ll want to ensure they are experienced with the criminal law process and will provide a well-rounded defense for you. The initial appearance can set the tone for your case, and you’ll want your lawyer to be effective at every level. Aaron Hooper, Attorney at Law is highly experienced in criminal cases, and all the different components of a criminal case. We can help you understand the importance of not only the initial appearance but the other steps of your criminal law case.

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