Initial Appearance in Arizona Criminal Proceedings
After a person gets arrested for a crime in Arizona, they’ll need to go through various processes. One of the first official appointments is the initial appearance. An initial appearance is a session with a judge that has to take place within 24 hours of getting arrested. The aim of the initial appearance is to provide the defendant with important information about the criminal process and to set the bail conditions, if applicable.
Initial Court Appearance: An Overview
During an initial court appearance in Arizona, a judge will aim to accomplish several things. The most important ones include:
- Informing the defendant about their Constitutional rights
- Telling them what their defense options are (if they’re entitled to an appointed attorney, for example)
- Setting the bail conditions
During an initial appearance, the defendant does not have the right to be represented by an attorney. As a result, many people do not know what to do or how to behave during the session.
The judge will ask for certain kinds of information during the initial appearance. Some of the questions will be about the defendant’s name and address, whether they intend to hire an attorney and whether they qualify for a public defender.
This is not an opportunity to tell your side of the story. The initial appearance is more of an administrative session that will tackle important issues and prerequisites for the upcoming trial.
More information about the initial appearance can be found in Rule 4.2 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure.
The Release Conditions
Determining the release conditions and bail rank among the most important tasks to be accomplished during the initial appearance. The judge will set the release conditions on the basis of the nature of the crime, whether the person is a repeat offender, family ties, financial situation, flight risk, victim involvement and whether the person is a threat to the community in the case of a release.
The possible release conditions include the following:
- Own recognizance: this is the simplest scenario in which the defendant will simply be released after they promise to appear at a next court date. Usually, such release conditions are enforced when the person is a non-violent offender and there’s no flight risk and no threat to the community.
- Release on bond: the release will be tied to posting a bond. The amount will be specified by the judge for the purpose of ensuring the defendant’s appearance at an upcoming trial date.
- Third party release: this one may apply to a juvenile defendant who is released to a parent or a guardian. A person could also be released to a spouse who promises to bring them to court.
- Pretrial services release: in this case, a program will be employed to assist the court in making the release decision. The program could be national, state or carried out by a non-profit agency. Experts will provide the judge with professional evaluations and assessment of the risks stemming from the eventual release of the defendant.
Difference between Initial Appearance and Arraignment
Initial appearance and arraignment are not one and the same thing.
An arraignment is similar to the initial appearance but such a hearing will take place only after the indictment of the defendant. An indictment will take place only in the case of a felony.
During an initial appearance, the charges will be presented but the defendant isn’t going to respond to them. In the case of an arraignment, a plea must be entered. The initial appearance is more of a session during which the defendant will be given advice about the upcoming trial. An arraignment is a much more formal notification of the charges that necessitates a response on behalf of the defendant.
A final very important difference is that a criminal defense attorney can be present during an arraignment. The lawyer will help their client with selecting and entering the most reasonable plea based on the circumstances.