What Happens at the First Appearance Hearing

By Lowry Law Firm | Posted on October 16, 2014

After an arrest, Florida law requires a person be seen before a judge within 24 hours, which is called a First Appearance hearing. This hearing is to determine whether probable cause exists in the allegations that caused the arrest, and to determine appropriate conditions of release, including bond amount. Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney Mark Lowry is a former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your charges and determine the best way to fight them. We will appear with you at the First Appearance hearing and argue that no probable cause exists, and/or to release you without a bond or very little bond. We will sit down with you or your family for a free consultation and discuss your rights and possible outcomes to help you understand the entire process.

The first thing the Court will do is read the arrest report, or probable cause affidavit, and determine whether there is probable cause to charge the defendant. If the judge finds no probable cause, the Court can give the State another 24 hours to fix the report if the officer can, in good faith, add facts to the report that provide probable cause for the arrest. If the State cannot do this or the Court does not allow them to “cure” the defect, the defendant will be released on his own recognizance (ROR), and given a date to appear in Court to see if the State ultimately files formal charges. Remember, at this point the Court is only determining whether there was probable cause to hold the defendant in custody, and not whether the defendant is guilty or should be charged formally.

If probable cause is found, the Court will then determine appropriate conditions of release, if any. The Court can either release the defendant on his own recognizance (ROR), meaning a promise to appear at future court dates; release him to pretrial services (PTR), meaning not having to post a bond but instead having to report to a pretrial officer every week or so; or set an appropriate bond and conditions of release (unless a capital offense is alleged or one so serious the State has requested no bond). Conditions of release can include not contacting the alleged victim and not to leave the county or state.

If you or someone you love has been cited or arrested for anything, contact criminal attorney Mark Lowry immediately to help understand the criminal process and how to move forward. We offer affordable payment plans and 24 hour service 7 days a week.