The initial appearance is the first formal contact that a defendant in a criminal case has with the court system.
What happens when I am arrested?
In Iowa, a person must be brought before a judge without unnecessary delay after they are arrested. While there is no strict timeline set out by the Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure, it is likely that any delay longer than 48 hours constitutes an unnecessary delay. This 48-hour deadline is supported by the holding in the United States Supreme Court case of County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991). In that case the Supreme Court held that a jurisdiction that combines probable cause determinations with other pretrial proceedings must do so as soon as is reasonably feasible, but in no event later than 48 hours after arrest. The Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure require a judge to make a probable cause determination at the initial appearance when a person is subject to a warrantless arrest, so it seems probable that this 48-hour rule applies.
Can I be released from jail before my initial appearance?
If a person is arrested under a warrant, that person may be released before the initial appearance. However, release is not always authorized after an arrest under a warrant and even where it is authorized, a person may be required to post a bond prior to being released.
If a person is arrested without a warrant, that person may also be released prior to the initial appearance. However, as with arrests under a warrant, if a person is arrested for certain criminal offenses, that person must attend their initial appearance before they are eligible for bail or pretrial release. Otherwise, a person may be released on pretrial release or upon posting bail.
What happens at the initial appearance?
If the initial appearance is for an indictable crime, the magistrate is required to inform the defendant of the charge, provide a copy of the complaint, inform the defendant of the right to retain counsel or of the right to request court appointed counsel, how the defendant may secure pretrial release, how the defendant can seek review of the conditions of pretrial release, and that the defendant is not required to make a statement.