Meet lawyer before first court appearance

Do I Need a Lawyer for My First Court Appearance? Top Questions Answered

In Criminal by Greensboro Attorney

In your first court appearance, you will have many questions about what to expect and do. You can leverage an expert attorney to ensure that every aspect of your case is handled professionally and properly. However, it also pays to know how the court system works so you know the best way to prepare for your case as it unfolds.

Armed with the correct information, you can be confident that you can face up to whatever challenges are ahead and that you can leave a good first impression on the court. 

FAQs for a First Court Appearance

The following are the top questions about making a first court appearance to inform you.

Do I need a lawyer for my first court appearance?

Yes. You should hire and meet with a lawyer before going to court for your first appearance. It is one of the most important things to do to prepare for your case. 

The first court appearance is essential since the judge will discuss legal matters regarding your case, and you need a lawyer’s guidance to understand and navigate them. In addition, you can also seek help from a lawyer when the judge asks you for a preliminary plea.

An attorney do most of the talking during your first court appearance.

What is the first appearance statute in NC?

A first appearance court date must be set within 72 hours before a judge in the North Carolina court system from the time of the defendant’s arrest, or was taken into custody. 

What should you say during your first court appearance?

If you have an attorney, they will do most of the talking during your first court appearance. 

Your lawyer will talk about your background and paint you in a positive light. An attorney knows how to present their clients to the judge and the court in such a way that they can earn the sympathy of the court, especially if the client is wrongly accused of the crime. 

Lawyers have experience in these cases so they know what to say (and what not to say) to help your case.

How does a first appearance work?

Once your bond is set, you will have your first court appearance the following day. It depends on which city in North Carolina you are in, but most court sessions start at 2 p.m. The person in custody (defendant) will be brought into the court, and these cases are recorded via video monitor.

The session will begin with a probation officer briefly explaining each case. There will be a court clerk who will record everything that happens in court for each session. 

You must wait for your turn for your case to be discussed, and you (and your attorney) will be given a chance to speak, but wait for the judge to call out your name. It would be best if you did not speak until your attorney has encouraged you to do so. Most attorneys will brief their clients before the first court session so they know what to say when asked by the judge. 

Most attorneys will brief their clients before the first court session.

What happens after the first appearance in court in North Carolina?

After your first court appearance, the judge will review the bond. They will also advise the defendant of their rights and probable cause of hearing (for felony cases). 

What happens if you don’t show up for court in NC?

The failure to appear in court will prompt the court to issue an arrest warrant against you. It is a serious offense so you could be arrested for it. You could face up to 120 days in jail when arrested and receive a $200 fine. 

How do I postpone a court date in NC?

You and your attorney must appear in court on your initial court date. You must file a request for a continuance. It must be done personally as such requests sent via mail will not be honored. Instead, you must appear in court and file a motion for continuance. 

Hire NC Lawyers for a First Court Appearance

The first court appearance is a pivotal component of the criminal justice system. You want to appear in court immediately after your arrest, where a judge will determine if you can post bail, detain you, or release you. When you find yourself in this situation, you should contact an attorney in North Carolina immediately. 

Without a lawyer’s guidance, you could have the court decision work against you. Without their legal expertise and understanding of how the court system works, you won’t be able to leverage any information you have to facilitate your immediate release or to have charges against you dropped. Therefore, you should only appear in court with a lawyer because it could harm your case if you don’t.