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Notice to Appear

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Tampa, FL

Have you received a Notice to Appear? Although this document may not seem significant, a Notice to Appear indicates you are facing criminal charges.

You need to secure a legal representative by the time you enter the court to retain the best possible chance of reducing or eliminating your charges. At Thomas & Paulk, we are familiar with all aspects of criminal law. Our history as Tampa criminal defense attorneys encompasses thousands of successful results against a wide range of charges. Call (813) 321-7323 to find out how we can assist you!

What Is a Notice to Appear?

A Notice to Appear simplifies the court attendance process for those charged with lesser crimes. In essence, a Notice allows an officer to avoid arresting and jailing the defendant before their court hearing. This is especially helpful for criminal activities such as shoplifting or trespassing. Even though Notices to Appear are more convenient for everyone involved, they're only given for certain offenses.

Notices to Appear are issued in limited circumstances, if:

  • You are charged with a misdemeanor or minor violation.
  • You have not failed to respond to a previous notice.
  • You are deemed likely to appear on the court date.
  • There is no risk in summoning you to appear.

Though they are simpler, Notices carry the same legal weight as an arrest. If you fail to attend court as required, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Because of this, it is crucial that you do not neglect your Notice to Appear.

When a Notice to Appear Is Not Allowed

Contrary to popular belief, not all arrests are accompanied by a trip to the police station. In some circumstances, a person will be arrested for a violation, a first or second-degree misdemeanor offense, or because they violated a municipal or county ordinance, which can be tried in the county.

If the arrestee does not demand to be taken before a judge, the arresting officer can issue a Notice to Appear, unless:

  • The accused refuses to identify themselves.
  • The accused cannot identify themselves for some reason.
  • The accused says that he or she will NOT sign the Notice to Appear.
  • The arresting officer is concerned that if he or she lets the accused go free, he or she will hurt themselves or someone else.
  • The accused does not have the ties to the jurisdiction to ensure that he or she will appear in court.
  • There is sufficient reason to believe that the accused will ignore the Notice to Appear, or that they are a “flight risk.”
  • In the past, the accused has ignored a Notice to Appear, or they have violated any of the conditions of a pretrial release program.

When the Person Is Arrested

If any of the above exceptions apply, the law enforcement officer will most likely arrest the individual and from there, the accused will be taken down to the station for booking. But just because someone is delivered to the booking officer, it doesn’t mean they’ll be jailed.

Once the accused arrives at police headquarters, the booking officer will offer a fresh set of eyes on the case. If the booking officer believes that incarceration is unnecessary and that the accused is not a flight risk, the booking officer has the authority to issue a Notice to Appear at the station.

A booking officer will not issue a Notice to Appear until after he or she has conducted a reasonable investigation into the accused, including:

  • Residential address and how long he or she has lived in the community
  • Family connections in the community (family ties are a positive)
  • Employment status and history
  • Moral character and emotional stability
  • Any history of criminal convictions
  • Any history (good or bad) of appearing for court hearings

How a Notice to Appear Is Served

If an officer decides to issue a Notice to Appear, the officer will give one copy of the notice to the accused, but to secure the accused’s release, he or she must provide written promise that they will appear in court. To do this, the accused signs three copies of the notice: one is kept by the officer, and the remaining two copies are filed with the Clerk of Court.

As of January 1, 2017, Notices to Appear are issued immediately after people are arrested and before they’re allowed to drive home or leave the officer’s presence. However, if a Notice to Appear is issued by a booking officer at the station, it is issued immediately after the booking officer conducts their investigation and determines that the individual does not have to stay at the station. In these cases, the arresting officer or another official will release the accused from custody.

How Our Tampa Law Firm Can Help

If you have received a Notice to Appear, the Tampa criminal defense attorneys at our firm are prepared to provide the legal counsel you need. We can answer your questions, discuss the details of your case, and build a defense that effectively challenges your charges. Rest assured that even the smallest charges are considered a top priority by our legal team.

Contact our firm if you have questions about how we can help! We are former prosecutors who have defended clients across Florida for nearly 20 years.

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