Appearance, Probable Cause, Advice of Rights, Preliminary Bail
When an arrest is made, whether with or without a warrant, the arrested person shall be brought without unnecessary delay to the next scheduled Initial Appearance Hearing, in accordance with Virgin Islands Rule of Criminal Procedure (V.I.R.CRIM.P. 5). Where the arrest is made without a warrant, a complaint must be filed prior to the next scheduled Initial Appearance. 

Prior to the Initial Appearance Hearing, the Attorney General shall prepare and file a complaint which recites the charge, the applicable statutory citation in accordance with Rule 123(a)(5). 

In accordance with V.I.R.CRIM.P. 5, during the Initial Appearance Hearing, the Court examines the complaint, arresting officer, and/or any other witnesses to the crime under oath. The defendant may cross-examine witnesses against him. If it appears from the evidence presented that there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and that the defendant committed it, the Judge shall forthwith hold the Defendant to answer the complaint. The finding of probable cause may be based upon hearsay evidence in whole or in part. 

If the judge determines at the Initial Appearance hearing that there is no probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed or that the accused committed it, the Court shall dismiss the proceeding, discharge the accused, and exonerate any bail posted. The discharge of the accused shall not preclude the Government from instituting a subsequent prosecution for the same offense.

Advice of Rights Hearing
In accordance with V.I.R.CRIM.P. 5, if probable cause is found during the Initial Appearance Hearing, the Court shall inform the Defendant of the complaint against him or her and advise the accused of his rights, including the following:

The right to remain silent and that if a voluntary statement is made it could be used against the accused;

The right to counsel;

If unable to hire a lawyer, one would be provided without cost if the affidavit by the accused or his parents, etc. satisfies the Court of his need;

The right to consult with a lawyer before answering any questions and to have the lawyer present during any questioning;

If the defendant is willing to make a statement, the defendant has a right to stop at any time;

The defendant has the right to bail;

The defendant has the right to obtain the court’s assistance in serving witnesses on his behalf.

Finally, at the Initial Appearance Hearing, the Court shall set such bail as is appropriate consistent with V.I.R.CRIM.P. 5-1 and shall schedule the matter for arraignment, which shall be held not later than ten (10) days from the Initial Appearance if the Defendant is in custody, nor later than twenty (20) days from the Initial Appearance if the Defendant is not in custody, except for good cause shown. 

Arraignment and Preparation for Trial
Arraignment is a court proceeding whereby the defendant is brought before the Court to plead to the criminal charge against him or her. Pursuant to V.I.R.CRIM.P. 10, at the arraignment, the defendant’s counsel enters an appearance on defendant’s behalf; defendant receives a copy of the Information (which is the document that contains the formal charges).  The Court reads the Information to the defendant, unless the defendant waives formal reading of the information; and then the Court asks the defendant to plead to the Information.

Pursuant to V.I.R.CRIM.P. 11, a Defendant may plead guilty, not guilty, or with the Court’s permission, nolo contendere to any complaint or information. The decision on what plea to enter is one of the most important decisions a defendant will make. Please note if a defendant refuses to plead or if the Judge refuses to accept a plea of guilty, the Judge shall enter a plea of not guilty. In no case shall the Court accept a plea of guilty without first determining if the Defendant understands the nature of the charge against him, and that the plea is voluntarily made. 

A defendant is entitled to change his or her plea at any time before the findings are made by the Court. The defendant shall be permitted to change a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to one of not guilty only by permission of the Court. 

Where a plea of guilty is entered, the Court may hear the witnesses in support of the complaint prior to judgment and sentence, and after such hearing, may in its discretion refuse to accept the plea.