Federal Crimes Blog

What Happens at Initial Appearance in a Federal Criminal Case?

Posted by Hedding Law Firm | Jan 12, 2021

Typically, when somebody gets arrested, especially here in the Central District, Los Angeles and that area, someone is going to be taken into the court.

I've seen the arrest being made early in the morning and then the person makes the 2:00 calendar in the federal court, at which time they'll be given what charges they're being accused of.  They will have an opportunity to speak to their attorney.

That's why it's so important if you're trying to get an attorney for a loved one who's just been recently arrested by the feds, pick up the phone now and call my office.

Usually, once I get retained, I can get ahold of the court pretty quickly, let them know I'm going to be on the case, and obviously will be available to make the federal initial appearance.

Federal Indictment and Conditions for Release

Sometimes the indictment will have been filed, sometimes it won't have been filed, so we have to deal with that.  If there's an indictment, the person will be given a copy of the indictment and given a chance to go over the indictment with their attorney.

What Happens at Initial Court Appearance in a Federal Criminal Case?

Another thing I see being done is pre-trial services will weigh-in on whether or not there's some sort of conditions that the person can be released from custody while their case is pending.

The prosecutors will weigh-in on that as well and they will give their position to the judge and the defense attorney as to whether or not they think the defendant should be:

  • detained, or
  • released, and
  • what conditions they can be released on.

That's all usually going to be decided right at the beginning of the case.  They'll be a report generated by the probation department saying whether they think the person should be released.

Signature Bond vs. Property Bond

If they think the person should be released, under what terms the person should be released.  In other words, should it be a signature bond, a property bond?

How is the judge going to let that person go and assure the prosecutors and the system that the person is going to show back up at the next court appearance.

So that's something that's going to be argued.  Obviously, you want your attorney there that you've retained right from the beginning.

So, if you're a loved one trying to find an attorney, now is the time to get one because once that bond is set, it's very difficult to change it.

Setting Bail for Release From Custody

Certainly, you can file a motion for reconsideration with the judge or magistrate who sets the bail.  You can also argue to the judge who the case is appointed to that:

  • you want a lower bail, or
  • if the person is detained and not able to get out, that you think they should be able to get out.

But, it's much easier to get it done right the first time and get the person out then try to struggle to get it done after some sort of bond conditions have been set, or the person has just simply been detained.

For example, because they're facing a mandatory minimum sentence and the judge feels that they're a flight risk or maybe they have other criminal matters pending or prior convictions, whatever the case may be. So, at that initial appearance, a lot of importance stuff is happening:

  • number one, they're deciding whether or not your loved one is going to get out of custody while the case is pending, which is huge;
  • number two, the person is finding out their charges, who the prosecutor is.

And, a lot of times, they will continue it to another hearing to assign the judge. But, in those initial appearances, the first or second appearance, the person is going to be assigned who their judge is.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Federal Crimes

Criminal Defense Attorney for Federal Crimes
Call our law firm to review the details of your case.

You want to have your attorney there to deal with any rules that particular judge might have and to try to get you out of custody.

Also, to meet the prosecutor to find out what the charges are and to start moving the case in a positive direction in your favor right from the beginning.

So, an initial appearance in a federal case is crucial.  You want your attorney there.  You want your attorney prepared with all of the information and ready to argue on your behalf.

I've been doing this for almost 30 years.  If you or a loved one needs help with a federal case and there's an initial appearance coming up, pick up the phone.  Ask to speak to Ron Hedding.

A lot of times I can get on the phone fairly quickly or we can meet in person, however you want to do it, and get the case moving in the right direction.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.

We serve people in California and throughout the United States, including Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Utah.

Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0994.

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about Federal Criminal Defense issues in Los Angeles and Encino California. We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.