What does Appearance mean?
The appearance is the first time an alleged, criminal suspect appears in court. Generally, the first appearance for a defendant who is being held in custody is within 24 hours of the arrest. At the appearance the defendant will be informed of the charges against them, they will be advised that they have a right to an attorney or have an attorney appointed to them, and the conditions for their release. Defendants can be either released on bond or on their own recognizance, or remain jailed for the safety of the community. The defendant will also be given another date to appear in court.
The regulations and rules of the appearance are governed by state and federal rules of criminal procedure. For misdemeanors, such as traffic tickets, a person may not need to appear in court but may just pay their fine. For minor infractions the first appearance and the arraignment may be done at the same time. A defendant charged with a felony may not enter a plea at the first appearance but will do so at the arraignment.