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Lexington General Sessions Initial Appearance

Lexington General Sessions Initial Appearance

Everyone charged with a General Sessions level offense in Lexington County will receive notice of a first appearance date. What happens there?

A first appearance is sometimes also referred to as “roll call”, a holdover from a time when all defendants were required to appear at the same time at the beginning of each term of court.

Instead, the modern system in Lexington is appearance based. The first appearance is, just that, a first appearance. The date is assigned at bond court, usually on a Thursday 4-6 weeks out. Appearances are normally held at the new courthouse, 205 East Main Street.

All defendants who have been arrested during a certain time period will have the same first appearance. Only defendants out on bond go to their appearance. Defendants who are in jail aren’t transported and nothing happens in their case. Defendants who do appear are required to check in by signing a form, and given a date to come back for a follow up appearance.

There is no judge.  No one questions the defendant about their case. Appearances aren’t any kind of hearing. We recommend that our clients arrive at their appearance about 30 minutes early. This way there is parking and there isn’t a big security line. Many times it’s possible for us to have a clients checked-in and then out the door prior to the official 9:00 A.M. start time.

If a defendant doesn’t appear the prosecutor’s office will obtain a bench warrant. This can result in them being arrested and held for the duration of the case.

Even though the first appearance seems easy, it is still important that defendants hire a lawyer by this time. That is because the prosecutor’s office tries to keep cases on a schedule, and they assume that defendants will have a lawyer who can officially request initial discovery materials by that date. By the time the next appearance, called a follow up appearance, rolls around the prosecutor may be ready to discuss substantive issues involving the case, make any plea offer, or schedule a trial.

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