Prospective clients regularly ask, "do I need an attorney before the first court appearance?" The short answer is: absolutely.
First, a defense attorney can review your criminal complaint and challenge whether probable cause was stated for each listed alleged offense. If the State fails to provide essential facts which, if true, constitute the alleged crime, then the charge should be dismissed. We have succeeded in moving to dismiss charges and sometimes entire complaints at the initial appearance.
Second, a defense attorney can help you prepare to argue about your bail and bond conditions. Bail and bond is more than just about how much money, if any, a defendant must post to remain out of custody pending the conclusion of the case. Bail and bond conditions can significantly alter and affect a client's livelihood. Here are some bond conditions that Wisconsin courts regularly consider at the initial appearance: no contact with a loved one, even if that person WANTS CONTACT; no driving regardless of whether the client has a license; house arrest, even if a client has a full-time job, GPS or electronic monitoring, which is very expensive; random drug screening. These conditions should be prepared for by meeting ahead of time and discussing why these conditions may not be the right fit for the case.
Third, a defense attorney can determine whether you would be better served by having the case heard before a different judge. In misdemeanor cases, a client loses the right to substitute a judge after the initial appearance. By preparing for the initial appearance, we can advise you using past sentencing data how a judge might respond to a particular conviction.
Taken together, hiring a prepared and experienced defense attorney can make all of the difference at your initial appearance. If you, or someone you know, has an upcoming criminal initial appearance, then they should contact us immediately for a free consultation and attorneys fee quote. Call us today at 262-632-2200.
Brian P. Dimmer