Arraignment in Iowa

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In Iowa, a person arrested with or without a warrant must be taken before a judge for an initial appearance “without unnecessary delay.” (Iowa Code Ann. §§ 804.21804.22.)

Arraignment in Iowa occurs later in the proceedings—for more information on both arraignment and initial court appearances, including the effect of delay, see Arraignment: Getting to Court.

Arrest by Warrant

Defendants arrested pursuant to a warrant may be released prior to initial appearance on bail or their own recognizance unless the charge relates to certain kinds of conduct—for example, manufacture or distribution of methamphetamine. (In many instances, the judge must, within 24 hours, or as soon as is reasonable on the next business day, either approve or disapprove of the release; if the judge disapproves, he or she issues a warrant for the defendant’s arrest.)

At the initial appearance, the judge sets or changes the amount of bail. A judge can even order the defendant’s release by written or verbal order before the first court appearance—but this order must be preceded by a reliable attorney’s request. (Iowa Code Ann. § 804.21).

Arrest Without Warrant

If the defendant is arrested without a warrant, the authorities must deliver a complaint to the judge setting forth the grounds for the arrest. If the judge finds probable cause to believe the defendant committed the alleged offense and the court has jurisdiction, the judge will proceed with the case. If jurisdiction is in another court, the judge will set bail and order the defendant delivered to the appropriate court. (Iowa Code Ann. § 804.22.)

Because Iowa combines the initial appearance with a probable cause determination, the first court appearance after a warrantless arrest should typically occur within 48 hours. (County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44, (1991).) The remedy for holding a defendant too long is release from custody—rarely is it suppression of evidence or dismissal of charges. (For more, see Arraignment: Getting to Court.)

Initial Appearance Procedure

Whether the defendant was arrested with or without a warrant, at the initial appearance the judge will:

  • inform the defendant of the charges
  • advise the defendant of her right to an attorney, retained or appointed
  • advise the defendant of the means by which she can obtain pretrial release (and the right to review of release conditions)
  • provide the defendant a copy of the complaint
  • advise the defendant of the right to remain silent and that any statements can be used against her, and
  • allow defendant a reasonable chance to consult with counsel.

The defendant isn’t asked to enter a plea at the initial appearance. (Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 2.2.) (For a discussion of pleading at an initial appearance or arraignment, see How should I plead at arraignment?)

Talk to a Lawyer

The information in this article should not replace the advice of a licensed attorney. Anyone who has been arrested should immediately seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, who can fully explain the applicable law.

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