Your first time in court can be a daunting experience, but that doesn’t mean you have to be confused about what to expect. In this blog post, we’ll address what the first court appearance is, and what you can expect in a criminal case.

What is the First Court Appearance?

Your first appearance in court is known as the initial hearing or arraignment. This court appearance occurs the day of or the day following the arrest. A couple important things happen:

  • you are brought before a judge who reads your charges to you
  • you hear your rights
  • you can arrange to have an attorney represent you and
  • the judge chooses whether or not you (the defendant) will stay in prison until the trial or be released before

What About Bail?

“Posting bail,” also known as bond setting, is a viable option for defendants who meet the requirements and wish to be released from prison before the commencement of the trial. The judge is the one who sets the bail, and they decide whether you qualify for bail based on a certain set of requirements. Some of these criteria include past convictions, how long you’ve lived in the area, and whether you have family in the area.

How much does it cost if you are able to post bail? That depends on what they judge sets it as. It will always vary, though sometimes a judge can order a personal recognizance bond, which essentially means that no money is required, only your word that you will return on your court date. If you cannot afford the bond that the judge sets, then you will stay in prison before and during the trial, also known as remaining in custody.

Finding a Lawyer…

When deciding how to go about hiring an attorney, there are three general courses of action:

Represent Yourself:

Representing yourself in court, also known as “pro se” is in fact an option in criminal court cases. However, it hinges on two important points. The first is that most of the time, this is generally not a good idea. The innerworkings of the legal field are complex. After all, lawyers spend years in law school developing a good sense of the law. The second is that you may only represent yourself if the judge allows it. They will look at aspects like your general competency, age, and education. It’s important to know that being competent enough to stand trial is completely different than being able to represent yourself at trial.

Hire a Private Attorney:

The second, and much more feasible idea, is to hire a defense counsel that will aid you in your case. With years of experience and dedication to the field, hiring a private attorney is a great way to tip the balance in your favor. Here at the Colorado Lawyer Team, we work in both criminal defense and family law. We’ll work hard to ensure that your case is handled well and properly, and even if we’re not the right fit for you, there will be other firms who will do the same.

Be Appointed a Public Defender:

If you don’t want to (or cannot) represent yourself in a criminal case, and you cannot afford to hire an attorney, than the state will appoint you a public defender. Public defenders are licensed attorneys, just like private attorneys, with the only difference being they work for the state (publicly) rather than in a private firm. You can check out the steps to applying for a public defender on the Colorado Judicial Branch’s website.

Need Legal Help?

Looking for legal representation? Not sure if hiring an attorney is the right thing for you? Consider reaching out to our attorneys here at the Colorado Lawyer Team for a free 30-minute consultation. With specialties in family law and criminal law, our experienced, dedicated, and hard-working attorneys may just be the representation you need! Find more information at or call 970.670.0378.

Interested in learning more about the law? Check out some of our previous blog posts like Economic Stressors and Divorce and Domestic Violence Cases and Child Custody.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship. It’s a blog post and not legal advice. Each case is different, and this post is meant for generalized knowledge, only. If you haven’t signed an engagement letter (or even received an engagement letter) AND issued some form of payment (peanuts do not count), then no attorney-client relationship exists. Nevertheless, we will do our best to ensure your confidentiality should you choose to contact us privately, but do not post about your case in the comments here (because reaching out for help with your case should be confidential, damn it).

If you have done both of the things mentioned earlier–signed a letter and paid us–then, and only then, you might be a client. But merely chatting with us online does not a client make. Suffice it to say, if you aren’t absolutely certain about whether or not an attorney-client relationship exists between yourself and the Colorado Lawyer Team, you should probably ask for some clarity. Until then, we’ll keep your secrets but we don’t formally represent you… YET.