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Court Proceedings

Initial Appearance

The initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge is in most cases the defendant’s first contact with the Court and usually is the point where pretrial release or detention is addressed. An initial appearance will occur in one of the following situations:

an arrest on a warrant issued on a complaint an appearance on a summons issued in lieu of a warrant an arrest by an officer without a warrant (in which case the complaint is issued immediately by the U.S. Magistrate Judge) an arrest on a warrant issued following the return of an indictment of the Grand Jury an information is filed by the U.S. Attorney an appearance on a citation or violation notice in a misdemeanor offense
an appearance in response to an informal agreement between the U.S. Attorney and Defense Counsel

The defendant will be read the charges being filed or the complaint against them during the initial appearance. Additionally, they will be provided a copy of the charges. The Court will determine if there is a need for an appointed attorney at this time.

Detention Hearing

Detention hearings are conducted when the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or the Court on its own motion, requests that the defendant be detained without bail. At the detention hearing, the Government must prove there is reason to detain the defendant.


Arraignments are conducted in open court and consist of the reading of the indictment or the information to the defendant or stating the substance of the charge. The defendant must enter a plea to the charge(s) at that time. A trial date is then set.

The Court will order a presentence report following a verdict of guilty at trial or the entrance of a guilty plea. While the probation office compiles this report, defendants continue to report to and be supervised by the Pretrial Services Office. All previously ordered conditions of release remain in effect.


If a defendant is not remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, he or she remains under Pretrial Services supervision until he reports to the Bureau of Prisons facility designated by the U.S. Marshals Service