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By Jeff Mueller
Practice Points columns.
Procedure in Detention and Preliminary Hearings
Federal criminal prosecutions generally begin by grand jury indictment.
There are occasions, however, when law enforcement will initiate the
process by criminal complaint. Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure allows federal authorities to issue a complaint rather than
initiate prosecution by indictment. Rules 5 and 5.1 explain the initial appearance and preliminary hearing procedures upon the filing of a criminal complaint.
For the initial appearance, a defendant must be brought before the U.S.
magistrate judge in the district where the offense is alleged to have
occurred or in the district where the defendant was found and arrested.
This must be done without “unnecessary delay” and is generally set in
five days or less. The magistrate judge will inform the defendant of his
or her rights and set the case for bail hearing and preliminary
The defendant is granted the right to
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