Initial Appearance in Chatham County

Initial Appearance in Chatham County

In Chatham County, an initial appearance happens in Recorder’s Court or Magistrate Court. The goal of the initial appearance is to make sure the suspect is fully aware of the accusation and to insure the court follows due process. If an arrest was made without a warrant, the initial appearance needs to happen within 48 hours of the arrest. If the arrest happens with a warrant, it should occur within 72 hours of the arrest.

What happens in the initial appearance?

During these proceedings, the judge will ask the accused if he or she has an attorney. The judge will also question the suspect to determine whether or not the suspect is indigent, or cannot afford to hire an attorney, in which case, the court will appoint one. The accused can waive the right to an attorney.

Setting Bail and What It Means

The second important part of the initial appearance is setting bail. Bail is an amount of money the suspect pays to the court to guarantee he or she will return for the trial. If the person who has been arrested posts bail, that means she does not have to wait in jail until the trial.

In some cases, bail is denied. This might happen in cases for major crimes like murder, rape, or armed robbery. Sometimes a person accused of a violent crime or a repeat offender will be denied bail.

Possible Bail and Bond Situations

If the accused posts bail but does not show up for the court date, he will forfeit the bail money. Sometimes suspects might not have money for bail, in which case, they can use the services of a bail bondsman, paying the bondsman a percentage of the amount, who will then act as a guarantor for the suspect. If the accused doesn’t have bail money nor uses a bail bondsman, he will stay in jail.

Occasionally in Georgia, a judge might agree to release the suspect on good faith without the exchange of bail money. This is considered a release on recognizance or a signature bond.

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