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  • Writer's pictureAttorney Joseph Soler

What Happens at First Appearance in Sarasota, Florida?

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

First Appearance is your first court date, usually within 24 hours of your arrest. At first appearance the judge will determine if there was PC (probable cause) for your arrest. If the judge decides there was no PC, you may be released on ROR (released on your own recognizance) from jail with no bond needing to be posted.

There must be probable cause in the PCA (probable cause affidavit—basically a police report). There are times when a judge will recognize that there is no PC in the PCA and give the prosecutor 48 hours to inquire with the arresting officer to determine whether PC ever existed. If this happens to you, the judge will schedule another first appearance, usually the next day.

At first appearance the judge will also determine whether you are a flight risk and/or a danger to the community. Your "ties to the community" and prior criminal history are mainly what the judge is concerned with here.

Ties to the Community

How long have you lived in the Sarasota County area? Do you have family here? Do you have a job? How long have you worked at your job ? If it is a domestic battery situation, do you have somewhere to (maybe temporarily) live apart from the alleged victim? Basically, is there a risk that you may run, or is it likely that you'll stay and answer to the charges and go to court?

Prior Criminal History

All prior criminal history is relevant to a judge when considering setting a bond at first appearance. This includes convictions, withholds of adjudication, even arrests. The prosecutor may even bring up prior juvenile issues (even though they may not be admissible at trial).

Some issues relevant to your attorney are: how much time has elapsed since your last arrest? Were some of the cases that the prosecutor mentioned dropped or abandoned by the state?

Another issue that the judge will consider at first appearance is whether you have failed to appear (FTA) for prior court dates. If you have, the judge will sometimes set a higher bond.

What should I not do at first appearance?

DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE BUT YOUR ATTORNEY ABOUT YOUR CASE! This is very important. There are a ton of desperate people in jail who will be looking for an opportunity to snitch in order to get a better deal. Only talk to your attorney about your case.

Also, do not talk about your case on the jail phones or in visitation. Basically, everything that you use to communicate with in jail is recorded so that it can later be used against you. In Sarasota, the prosecutors can very easily listen to your conversations, from their office desks even!

While at first appearance in Sarasota, there will be a microphone directly in front of you. Your attorney will be to your left; to your right will be the prosecutor. Be very careful to speak quietly and in low tones to your attorney.

What time is first appearance in the Sarasota County Jail?

On week days first appearance in the Sarasota County Jail is at 1:00PM. On weekends, first appearance is at 9:00AM.

What Soler & Simon can do for you at your fist appearance

Soler & Simon have handled hundreds of First Appearances. We will present facts to the judge to help your situation at first appearance. In some cases that will be to argue for ROR or SPR (supervised release) to allow you to be released from jail with no bond. Sometimes it will be to ask the judge to set a bond that is affordable to you. In other cases we may challenge the probable cause claim in the PCA.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, or will be turning in on a VOP warrant, contact us so that we can represent you at your first appearance. Call (941) 444-5128 for a free consultation. Also, please visit our homepage for more information on how our criminal defense attorneys fight cases in Sarasota, FL.

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