Appearance in Court and Proceedings When Facing Criminal Charges (North America)

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Facing a criminal charge is an unpleasant experience, no matter what you are accused of. Whether it be impaired driving, domestic violence, breach of the peace, traffic offense, theft, drug charge, or something else. It’s a daunting challenge for the defendant to manage a criminal charge. It is even more hard to mount a good defense if you’re arrested and accused of a crime in a state or country that is not your permanent residence.

Let’s how criminal proceedings look like, what happens at the first court appearance and thereafter, as well as some important things when facing criminal charges out of home state.

Criminal Proceedings

There are 3 possible ways a criminal charge might be commenced:

  1. When the Police arrest you according to the warrant a District Court judge has issued.
  2. When the Police arrest you without a warrant. Keep in mind that the Police have the right to do so if they have reason to believe that you’re attempting to or have already committed a crime.
  3. When a District Court issued a summons which obliges you to appear in court.

First Appearance in Court

You have two options when you appear in court for the very first time. You can either enter no plea or enter a plea to the charge – to plead Guilty or Not Guilty. In the first case, you will be required to enter a plea at your next appearance in court. So, the choice is yours.

Yet, it’s recommended that you don’t enter a plea at your first appearance in court. That will allow you to take your time to meet with a lawyer and get professional advice on how to plead. It is particularly advisable if you don’t have a lawyer or in case you haven’t met your lawyer already. If you still don’t have your own attorney, consider hiring criminal lawyer edmonton.

The Following Proceedings

What will happen after your first court appearance? Until the next appearance in court, you’ll either be remanded:

  • in custody (meaning you will be held in custody until your next court appearance),
  • at large (meaning you will be allowed to go home until the next court date), or
  • on bail (meaning you will be released on the certain conditions – for example if you don’t have any contact with the victim, if you live at a particular location, or if you must report to the Police).

You will be remanded multiple times throughout the process, whenever you’re waiting for the next appearance in court. It usually takes a week or two. That’s enough time to scrutinize all the circumstances with your lawyer and find the best possible approach to your case.

Criminal Charges Out of State

Out-of-state residents are often facing criminal charges that refer to breach of the peace or drunk driving. Here are some facts useful to know if you ever face an alleged crime in other states.


Only the state where the crime has occurred has the official power to prosecute the criminal offense. For instance, if you live in California and you’re arrested for a traffic offense in Nevada, then the state of Nevada has jurisdiction to institute legal proceedings against you for that offense.

As the defendant, you are required to appear in court as many times as the criminal process requires that from you. However, it could be burdensome to get back to the courtroom multiple times if you have been released on bail. This is especially true if you have committed a crime out of your state. By the way, it’s not simply to return to your home state. The U.S. Constitution obliges all the states within the territory of the United States to extradite a person accused of a crime on request of another state.


Misdemeanors are considered to be the less serious infringement of a law. In most cases, a year’s imprisonment is the maximum penalty a convicted person can receive. Luckily for defendants, the majority of states let the defendant hire a local lawyer. Your lawyer is supposed to advocate you during the criminal proceedings, meaning you won’t have to lose your time and travel to defend yourself. Of course, you should know what happens with your case so that make sure to stay in contact with your lawyer by e-mail and/or phone all the time.


The first thing that happens if you’re blamed and arrested for a felony is a bail hearing. However, it’s quite unlikely that the court will be willing to leave you home on your recognizance when the arrest happens out of your home state. That’s because you don’t have strong connections with to the community over there. This is where a bail comes in.


It is highly likely that the judge will require from you to post bail. In criminal proceedings, bail serves as a guarantee that a defendant will come back. The judges almost always require bail for out-of-state defendants. The bail gets returned to the defendant once he comes to court as required. If the accused doesn’t appear in the court as required then the bail will not be refunded. In addition, the judge will probably issue a request for arrest and the defendant will be held in jail pending trial date. In most circumstances, the conviction is an integral part of the public record. That means your out-of-state conviction may follow you if a future employer or another party is interested. Therefore, you need to stick to the rules of court, respect the judicial process, and cooperate with a competent lawyer.

As you can see from everything stated above, legal matters can be very stressful and complex when facing criminal charges. The things get more complicated if you are accused of a crime out of your state. This is why you need to hire a qualified attorney who specializes in criminal justice. A defense attorney is capable of explaining the law, addressing your legal needs, and representing you in court during the trial. That said, you should make sure to find and contact a local criminal lawyer and discuss your particular legal situation.


September 26, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized