What happens At First Appearance?
In the State of Florida when a person is arrested a person is set to see a Judge within a twenty-four-hour period (24) barring some unusual circumstance. In certain counties there is a set bond or bail schedule, this allows for an officer to give the defendant a pre-determined bond or bail amount allowing the person to post it and be released before the first appearance. If the person is unable to post that amount before the first appearance, then they will be taken before the Judge. In other counties there is no pre-determined bond schedule, meaning that every person arrested is held until the following day where they will go to court for their first appearance. There are three main purposes for first appearance, first is the Judge determining if there is probable cause to support the arrest. If a Judge determines that there is no probable cause, a person may be released on their own recognizance. Depending on the charge the prosecutor may seek additional time to have the arrest affidavit amended in an attempt to show probable cause and ask for the person to continue to be held in jail. If probable cause is found next is setting a reasonable bond, or if it is the previous set by a bond schedule making an argument for it to be reduced. Finally, the Judge may set pre-trial release conditions, for instance, a curfew, no contact provisions, do no return to certain location orders, no to drive without a valid license, or commonly for DUI arrest not to possess or consume alcohol. Once all three of these tasks are completed the Judge may also provide the person with their next court date which is typically their arraignment court hearing. Although it is very early on in the criminal court process, there are still benefits that an attorney can provide by attending a person’s first appearance. For instance, an attorney can argue that there is no probable cause to support their client’s arrest or argue to a low bond based on the person’s ties to the community, lack of criminal history or provide other mitigation evidence that would support a low bond. If, however, the bond is set in an amount that is not attainable, an attorney can file a motion to reduce the bond which will be heard by the Judge who ultimately is assigned the case, which is typically not the same as the Judge at first appearance. Every county is different when it comes to the first appearance, which is why it is important to hire an attorney with knowledge and experience in the county where the arrest happened. At Meldon Law, we have that knowledge and experience when it comes to First Appearances in Alachua, Levy, Marion, Putnam, and Sumter Counties. If you have been arrested for it is important to know your options, your rights, and the potential defenses you may have in your specific case, at Meldon Law we have the knowledge and experience to assist you in every aspect of your case. The attorneys at Meldon Law, know the rights you have and are dedicated to defending them and defending you if you have been charged with a crime call us at 352-373-8000 for a free consultation.