Your First Court Appearance
Learn more about Florida's first appearance court process for offenders.
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First Appearance

When you are arrested and booked into jail you may be confused about the process and your rights. The criminal process begins when a person is physically arrested and booked into jail. Anything you say or do from that point on could have serious consequences in the later stages of the criminal proceedings.

In Florida, the accused is required to make a first appearance in court within 24 hours of being arrested. First appearances can be more significant than they may seem. There, the alleged offender will find out the exact charges he or she faces and will be allowed the opportunity for legal counsel.

An arresting officer may issue a notice to appear, rather than making a formal arrest, for a misdemeanor crime after determining he or she is not a threat to anyone, including himself or herself. If you are written a notice to appear you must appear for court at a certain date and time. The first appearance would be the same as if you were arrested and booked into jail.

It is important you contact a Melbourne criminal defense attorney before your first appearance in court. Your attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you make the best legal decision for your case. Your actions in the first appearance can affect the outcome of your charges.

Melbourne First Appearance Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime in Central Florida, contact a Melbourne criminal defense attorney at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, LLC. The attorneys at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, LLC have experience representing clients beginning with their first appearances. The dedicated legal team can help you make an educated decision on your defense.

Call (321) 253-3447 to schedule a free consultation on your criminal charges. Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, LLC represents clients in Brevard County, Volusia County, Seminole County, Osceola County, Indian River County and Orange County.


Information About Florida First Appearance in Court


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Purpose of First Appearance in Florida

According to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, the purpose of the first appearance is to officially serve the defendant with his or her charges and to ensure he or she has legal counsel. During the first appearance, it also is determined if there will be any bail or other form of pretrial release for the defendant.

The judge will immediately inform the defendant that he or she is not required to say anything because whatever is said can be used against him or her. The judge also will tell the defendant that he or she has a right to legal counsel. If the defendant cannot afford counsel, it will be appointed.

The judge at the first appearance will tell the defendant he or she has a right to communicate with counsel, family and friends. If necessary, the means to do so will be provided.


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Counsel for the Defendant

At the first appearance in a Florida court, the defendant has a right to legal counsel if he or she does not already have someone to represent them. There are different options for legal counsel, including:

  • Retained counsel, when the defendant hires someone to represent him or her
  • Appointed counsel, when the judge appoints someone to represent the defendant
  • Waiver of counsel, when the right to representation is waived

When the defendant has employed counsel to represent him or her, the judge shall allow reasonable time to send for counsel. The first appearance could be postponed to ensure that counsel is there to represent the accused; however, the accused will remain incarcerated.

If the judge will appoint counsel, it must be done no later than the first appearance. If necessary, counsel may be appointed for the purpose of representing the defendant only at first appearance or at subsequent proceedings before the judge.

If the defendant chooses to waive his or her right to counsel, the waiver must be signed in writing and dated by the defendant. The written waiver would be limited to the first appearance, and counsel could be hired or obtained for subsequence proceedings.


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Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney for First Appearance in Brevard County

If you are facing criminal charges in Melbourne, contact a criminal defense attorney at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, LLC to represent you at your first appearance. Having counsel is a right and an important part of the criminal process. Call (321) 253-3447 to schedule a free case consultation.

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2715 North Harbor City Blvd, Ste 4 Melbourne, FL 32935
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The information provided on this website is for general information purposes only. The legal information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, FL, for advice regarding your own individual situation.
We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us, however, does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until after an attorney-client relationship has been established.
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