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What happens at a Felony First Appearance in Sangamon County, Illinois?

If you are charged with a felony in Springfield, Illinois, this article is intended to answer some of your questions, alleviate some of your fears, and give you some insight into the criminal justice system in Illinois. Felony cases are serious criminal offenses which are punishable by over one year in prison. If you are charged with a felony, it is strongly recommended, if not mandatory, that you hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer. If you are charged in Springfield, Illinois or anywhere in Central Illinois, our Criminal Defense Lawyers would be happy to speak with you during a Free Initial Consultation. Feel free to call us at (217) 414-8889.


A first appearance for a criminal felony is the first time you will be in court. If your loved one has been arrested and is currently incarcerated at the Sangamon County Jail, the first appearance will occur while they are incarcerated. If you received a Notice to Appear, or you previously bonded out of jail, you were given a court date to appear in front of the judge. Failure to show up at your first appearance will likely result in an arrest warrant.

As of the writing of this article, first appearances for felonies are scheduled for 1:30 in Courtroom 5C. This courtroom is located on the fifth floor of the Sangamon County courthouse. If your loved one is incarcerated, first appearances occur Monday through Friday. If you received a Notice to Appear or bonded out of the jail, your first appearance will be on a Wednesday.

At the first appearance, three things will be discussed: (1) The judge will read the charges and advise you as to the potential penalties you are facing; (2) The judge will discuss your bond; and (3) The judge will ask if you have hired an attorney or are planning on hiring an attorney.

Reading of the Charges and Potential Penalties

As discussed above, the first thing the judge will likely do is read you the charges which have been filed against you. The idea behind this is so you are aware of what law(s) the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office is alleging you violated. Next, the judge will tell you the potential penalties for that offense so you are aware of the potential prison time and fines that may be imposed against you.

Setting Bond

If you bonded out of jail, or received a Notice to Appear, the court will ask the prosecutor what their position is regarding bond. Normally, if you already posted money or you show up, the judge will not order you to post additional funds. That said, if you were never arrest for the offense and have never been arrested, the court will order that you be processed. This means you will be taken into custody for a short period of time.

If your loved one is incarcerated, the judge will Set Bond. The state will make a recommendation for bond and the judge may raise or lower their bond. It is best to have a Criminal Defense Lawyer present because they will have a better chance of getting their bond lowered.

Have You Hired a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

The final question the judge will ask you is if you have hired a lawyer or are in the process of hiring a lawyer. Clearly, if you have hired a lawyer they should be present with you at the hearing. If you have yet to hire a lawyer, the judge will ask if you are in the process of hiring a lawyer and if you have the financial ability to do so. The judge may appoint the Sangamon County Public Defender’s Office to represent you if you meet certain requirements.

If you represent to the court that you are in the process of hiring an attorney, you will be given an Attorney Status hearing. This is a hearing solely to see if an attorney is representing you. Likely, you will also be given a  preliminary hearing date. (For more about Preliminary Hearings, go to our page here.)

If you are looking for an attorney to represent you on criminal charges in Springfield, Illinois or anywhere in Central Illinois, contact our Criminal Defense Lawyers today for a Free Initial Consultation at (217) 414-8889.

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930 East Monroe Street,
Springfield, Illinois 62701
Tel: 217-414-8889

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