Making a first appearance in court or attending an advisory hearing is the first step of the criminal process. You can be called into court through an arrest or receiving a “notice to appear.” The purpose of an advisory hearing is to inform you of your charges, allow you to enter in a plea and set bond if necessary.
The majority of people are released on bond before their first appearance. However, in some cases you won’t be able to post bond before a first appearance. Some offenses have a “no bond” policy, which means you’ll be barred from bailing out until you attend an advisory hearing.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Attorney for Advisory Hearings in St. Petersburg, Florida
Were you recently arrested and denied bail? Have you been served with a “notice to appear” for a criminal charge? If so, it’s imperative you gain trusted legal representation. A practiced attorney can appear with you in court to argue for the lowest possible bond.
Contact the attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. to have your case reviewed. Our attorneys excel at crafting strong defenses for our clients. Using our techniques, our attorneys will fight for your rights. Call now at (727) 388-4736 for a free consultation.
Morris Law Firm, P.A. practices law at the Pinellas County Center of Justice including Bradenton, Largo, Dunedin, St. Petersburg and Tampa.
Overview of Advisory Hearings in Florida
- What is an Advisory Hearing?
- Probable Cause Determination
- Bail and Bonds in Florida
- First Appearance for Domestic Violence
- No-Bond Crimes in Florida
- Additional Resources
What is An Advisory Hearing?
An advisory hearing is your first appearance in court. It’ll be the first time you’re set in front of a judge, but no jury will be present. The hearing will be composed of a judge, a judicial officer, the District State Attorney, and the defense. If no private counsel has been hired, then a public defender or assistant public defender will be in attendance.
Several important factors are decided in an advisory hearing, these factors include:
- Information about your charges and the statutory penalties;
- If probable cause exists in the police affidavit or report; and
- The bond amount if necessary.
During the hearing, you will be informed of the following:
- You’re not required to speak and that anything said can be used against you;
- If you’re unrepresented, you have a right to counsel;
- If you can not afford counsel, the court will appoint counsel to you; and
- You have a right to communicate with counsel, friends or family if needed.
Probable Cause Determination in Florida
An important aspect of an advisory hearing is probable cause. The judge will have the opportunity to review the arrest affidavit or police report to determine if probable cause exists. If the judge decides probable cause isn’t present, then you may be released on your own recognizance (ROR).
Probable cause is more than a mere hunch. The term “probable cause” means law enforcement had a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances a crime had or was taking place. If the judge determines probable cause exists, then you’ll be criminally charged. Depending on the crime, the judge may determine bond and pre-trial conditions.
Bail and Bonds in Florida
Your next question may be; “Can I bail out of jail?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always so simple. If the judge determines probable cause exists, they will then consider if bond is necessary. Most bond amounts are set according to a bond schedule.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor or non-violent crime, it’s likely you’ll be given bond. However, not all offenses are allowed bond. Some felonies and violent crimes won’t be able to recieve bond for the safety of the general public. The court will consider several factors when deciding bond including:
- If you have roots in the community so it’s unlikely that you’ll be a flight risk;
- If you have failed to appear in court before;
- Your criminal history; and
- Your current financial situation.
First Appearance for Domestic Violence Crimes
Domestic violence cases are treated a little differently than standard criminal offenses. A domestic violence crime is considered a “no-bond” offense. You won’t be able to post bond until you’ve attended your advisory hearing. The alleged victim, investigating officer, and witnesses are not required to attend your first appearance.
The District State Attorney’s Office will typically hire a prosecutor who specializes in domestic violence cases. Prior to the first appearance, the prosecution will review the following:
- Prior domestic violence arrests;
- Prior arrests for non-domestic violence charges;
- Prior injunctions for domestic or repeat violence; and
- Prior walk-in complaints of domestic violence filed by the alleged victim.
All of this information will be presented at your first appearance. The judge will consider the safety of the alleged victim, their children or any other person who was affected by the offense when setting bond.
Crimes That Have No Bond in Florida
Florida has a “no-bond” policy for some crimes. This means you won’t be able to post bond before your advisory hearing. The purpose of the no-bond procedure is to ensure that you aren’t a flight risk and safe to go about the general public.
Listed below are crimes in which you cannot post bond before the first appearance.
- Capital felonies;
- Life felonies;
- First-degree felonies that are punishable by life;
- Attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit first-degree murder;
- Attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit second-degree murder;
- Third-degree murder;
- DUI that caused serious bodily injury or death;
- Sexual battery;
- Vehicular homicide;
- Sexual performance of a child;
- Computer pornography;
- Traveling to meet a minor;
- Robbery and aggravated robbery;
- Kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping;
- Child abuse or neglect;
- Aggravated assault and aggravated battery on law enforcement;
- Introduction of weapon into a state correctional institution;
- Domestic violence;
- Violation of a domestic violence injunction;
- Violation of felony probation, parole, or community control;
- Violation of a stalking injunction;
- Arrested on a fugitive warrant;
- Gang-related offenses; or
- Tampering with a witness, victim or informant on a life felony or capital felony case.
Pinellas County Bond Schedule – Visit the official website of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court to find more information about Pinellas County and Pasco County bond schedule. Access the schedule to learn the recommended bond amounts, what crimes have no bond and the bonds process.
Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure – Visit the official website of the Florida Bar to access the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Find more information about advisory hearings, pretrial release, penalties for failing to appear and more.
Lawyer for First Appearance in Pinellas County, Florida
If you or someone you know has been given a “notice to appear,” it’s important that you start your defense now. You could be criminally charged and face serious penalties. If your crime has a no-bond provision, you won’t be able to post bond until your first appearance. Don’t wait another moment in uncertainty. Contact the attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. now.
Morris Law Firm, P.A. has been practicing criminal defense law for years. Our attorneys have the right resources, knowledge and attitude to help you mount a strong defense. Call now at (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free consultation. We accept clients throughout the greater St. Petersburg area including Oldsmar, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater and Pinellas Park.
This article was last updated on December 31, 2018.