What is an Initial Appearance in Federal Criminal Cases in Fort Benning Georgia?
Columbus Georgia Lawyer Mark Jones Discusses: What is an Initial Appearance in a Criminal Case in Federal Court Middle District of Georgia?
1. If you commit a crime (allegedly) on Post at Fort Benning, Georgia, You Will End Up In Federal Court
If you have been charged with a crime occurring (allegedly) at the United States Army Post in Fort Benning, Georgia, your federal felony or misdemeanor case will go to the Federal Court in the Middle District of Georgia, Columbus, Division, (barring some sort of military jurisdiction)
2. An Initial Appearance is the First Step to Your Criminal Case
Criminal defendants are brought for an initial appearance before the presiding Magistrate Judge in the Middle District of Georgia, Columbus, Division.
There’s a criminal complaint that the Assistant United States Attorney (the prosecutor who represents the United States) will file prior to the initial appearance. The criminal complaint briefly summarizes the charges against you.
You will see the magistrate judge preside over your first few times in Federal Court in Columbus, Georgia — likely for your preliminary hearing and/or arraignment as well before being sent to the District Court Judge’s docket.
3. What Happens at the Initial Appearance?
Informed of Your Rights, Federal Defender Determination, and Maximum Sentence
At the initial appearance, the Magistrate Judge will inform you of your constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent. You will be asked if you can afford counsel and then the Federal Public Defender’s office will determine whether you meet certain income thresholds to qualify for free representation.
The Magistrate will then inform you of the charges against you and the statutory maximum sentence that could be imposed. Do not freak out here. Very rarely will you receive this statutory maximum sentence. Further, the judges of the federal judiciary adhere to the sentencing guidelines, which govern what you can be sentenced to.
After counsel is appointed, the magistrate informs the defendant of the charges and the statutory maximum sentence. The “statutory maximum” is the most jail time that a defendant can receive — it is rarely the actual sentence that is given.
Federal Cases Require a Lawyer:
If you have been charged with a crime on post at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, Lawyer Mark Jones can help fight for you with the goal of getting your charges tossed or reduced. Federal cases are a serious matter. You may have heard the expression, “Let’s not make a federal case out of it.” That’s a true expression. It means Federal cases are complex, time-consuming, and intimidating to those untrained in the law. You need a lawyer who will fight for you to make sure you are treated fairly by the federal court system. Call Mark today for a free consultation regarding your criminal case at 706-225-2555