What is an initial appearance?

Updated: 18 hours ago


An initial appearance is usually required within 24 hours of an arrest in a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or other Linn County criminal prosecution.


Officers will submit to the magistrate or presiding judge at initial appearance an affidavit and complaint alleging probable cause to believe the defendant broke some criminal law.


The initial appearance is a formality that usually does not take more than a few minutes. It’s important for defendants held in custody because this may be an opportunity to be released on their own recognizance or to pretrial release services instead of being held on bond. This is the Defendant's first opportunity to argue for release. However, other opportunities can occur in the future.


If the magistrate is convinced that probable cause exists to believe that the defendant did commit that crime, he or she will read to the defendant the charges, the range of penalties, and have set a preliminary hearing, noting that the defendant’s lawyer may waive it or an indictment may serve to cancel the preliminary hearing.


The Magistrate’s job—and the police officer’s patrol duties in the case— are done at this time.


Once a defendant appears before a magistrate at initial appearance in an indictable misdemeanor or felony prosecution, the magistrate no longer has authority over the matter and the prosecutor may craft an indictment—called a Trial Information— to present to a district associate or district court judge for approval and arraignment. Moreover, the police officer is merely a witness to the events and will be listed as such in an indictment, should it be approved.


If you or a loved one have been arrested in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or other Iowa community or county, contact us for a free initial consultation.

However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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