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What is a First Appearance (Rule 5 or Rule 8 Hearing)

If you are charged with crime, you’ll usually get a date for a first appearance. This hearing is also called an arraignment, Rule 5, or Rule 8 hearing. So, what happens at this hearing?

Can I go to jail at a first appearance or arraignment?

Typically, no. Unless you show the court that there is a new reason to go to jail, such as creating a disturbance at the courthouse, you will get another date for your matter and head home. Even if you plead guilty at the first appearance, it is likely that you will not go to jail immediately unless that is the option that you want.

Can I tell my side of the story at a first appearance?

Again, the answer is usually no. The first appearance is not your opportunity to dispute the criminal charge–that happens at trial. The first appearance is administrative and is used to set a roadmap for the rest of the matter. Usually, it is not in your best interest to tell the court and the prosecutor on the record what your story is unless you have agreed on a resolution.

What is a first appearance for?

The first appearance is a court date to let you know that you have been charged. Even if you receive a citation weeks or months before, the judge at the first appearance will make sure that you received the citation or complaint. The court will also let you know of your rights in the matter, such as a right to counsel and trial. Finally, bail and conditions of release will be set.