Edwards has pleaded not guilty to federal charges he solicited and used campaign contributions to hide his then-mistress and their daughter.
The former presidential candidate has said his actions were unethical but not illegal.
Edwards did not have to post bond, but he had to surrender his passport and is not allowed to leave the continental U.S. He also can't have contact with one of the wealthy benefactors who gave him money that prosecutors say was used to hide the affair.
The case of USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards contains six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements.
The indictment follows a two-year federal investigation that scoured through virtually every corner of Edwards' political career, including his stint as a U.S. senator, which ended seven years ago.
He had been negotiating for a plea bargain, but those talks ended without a deal.
If convicted, Edwards faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the six counts against him. He also faces losing his law license.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Edwards will argue in court on Thursday that a lawsuit involving a purported sex tape should go forward once the criminal charges against him are resolved. Former mistress Rielle Hunter is suing to get the tape back.