Magistrate Court holds first appearance hearings (known as bond hearings) every day, including all weekends and holidays. During the week, first appearance hearings are usually held at 8:30 a.m. at the Clarke County Courthouse, but the time is subject to change. On weekends and county holidays, first appearance hearings are held at the Clarke County Jail at a time set by the judge holding the hearing. Contact the jail at 706-613-3270 to obtain hearing times on holidays and weekends.
Purpose of Hearing
The purpose of a first appearance hearing is to notify arrested persons of the charge(s) being brought against them. Also, the judge will consider bail and whether to impose any conditions of release. If the judge is not authorized to set bail or declines to set bail, the defendant will be notified. The defendant will be provided information regarding the right to legal representation and how to apply for the assistance of appointed counsel if financially unable to hire an attorney.
First Appearance Hearing is Not a Hearing on the Merits of the Case
The first appearance hearing is not a commitment hearing / preliminary hearing or trial on the merits of the charges. The judge will not consider dismissal of any of the charges at this hearing. The defendant will not be asked any questions about the facts of the case.
Attendance at Hearing
For safety reasons, first appearance hearings are not generally open to the public. If a family member, interested party, attorney, or victim wants to attend a first appearance hearing, that person should speak with a Clerk in the Magistrate Court or the court deputy to request permission to be present at the hearing.