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Imagine this: You, your family, or your friend get arrested. What happens now? Well, in Georgia, once someone is arrested on criminal charges, they will appear before a magistrate judge for what's called a First Appearance hearing. This hearing can happen anytime after an arrest has been made but usually takes place within three days of the arrest date--most of the time, it’s the same or the next day. The crimes are read aloud by the judge at this hearing, and bond options are discussed with the defendant.

Certain counties have specific rules. For example, in Forsyth County, some charges are bondable without even seeing a judge or having to wait for a First Appearance Hearing -- DUI, Public Drunk, Disorderly Conduct, and other minor misdemeanors. However, if the crime is more serious or involves a victim, typically, you will have to wait for the First Appearance judge before getting out of jail. The most common crime on that end of the spectrum is Family Violence crimes (such as battery against your spouse), Stalking crimes, and any other violent crimes.

Regardless of the crime, it's important to understand that in Georgia, you can be denied bond based on your criminal history, the allegations, or simply because a judge doesn't feel comfortable letting you out of jail. So call a lawyer immediately to help you through the process.

**TIP - As of July 2021, if you are trying to watch First Appearance in Forsyth County, go to the jail lobby at 1:30pm during the week. There is a TV that has the hearing in real-time.

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