What is a Notice to Appear?
Notice to Appear
A Notice to Appear may look like a ticket or citation, but it has the same effect as if you were handcuffed and taken to jail. Being issued a Notice to Appear often gives a false sense of security that the case isn't that serious, but if you have been issued a notice to appear, you are facing the same potential consequences as if you had been arrested. Call us to discuss your Notice to Appear.
A "Notice to Appear" is defined in Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.125:
a written order issued by a law enforcement officer in lieu of physical arrest requiring a person accused of violation the law to appear in a designated court or governmental office at a specified date and time.
A police officer can only issue a Notice to Appear for a misdemeanor or municipal ordinance violation, not for a felony. The officer may issue the Notice to Appear in lieu of arrest unless:
- you fail or refuse to sufficiently identify yourself or supply the required information
- you refuse to sign the notice to appear
- the officer has reason to believe that your continued liberty constitutes an unreasonable risk of bodily injury to the accused or others
- you have no ties with the jurisdiction reasonably sufficient to assure your appearance or there is substantial risk that you will refuse to respond to the notice
- the officer has any suspicion that you may be wanted in any jurisdiction, or
- it appears that you previously have failed to respond to a notice or a summons or have violated the conditions of any pretrial release program.
There are several reasons that an officer may not issue you a notice to appear. For example, the officer must make an arrest for several crimes, including DUI and domestic battery. Other reasons that an officer may make a physical arrest are if you are from out of town and have no substantial ties to the area, you aren't cooperative, you have a prior record, and more. Every police department has their own policies on when officers can and should issue notices to appear.
The types of offenses that we most often see where Notices to Appear are issued are petit thefts and other minor criminal offenses where the person has no or minimal prior record. Also, on criminal traffic cases, citations are often issued in lieu of arrest for driving with suspended license and other criminal traffic cases.
The judge will usually issue a warrant for your arrest.
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