First Appearance Court in Tampa

The times for first appearance court in Tampa, FL, change frequently. The court is not good at communicating those changes. We did receive notice that beginning March 6, 2023, the following time charges were announced for Divison O / PP Court:

  • 10:00 a.m. on Monday thru Friday for PP COURT/1st APPEARANCE
  • 11:15 a.m. on Monday through Friday for Division O motions (bond motions, Adversary preliminary proceedings, etc.)
  • 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday for MISDEMEANOR VIDEO ARRAIGNMENTS
The best way to double-check the time is to call the jail or State Attorney’s Office.
The first appearance hearings are held in Courtroom 16 on the 1st floor. You will enter the Edgecomb Courthouse at 800 E. Twiggs Street. After going through the security checkpoint, you will go to the second floor and cross over the sky bridge into the older sections of the courthouse annex. In the courthouse annex, you will go to the first floor and find Courtroom 16. All hearings are in-person hearings with no option to attend by Zoom.

On the weekends, the juvenile detention docket hearings are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 16. Right after the juvenile detention docket hearings, the Court moves to Courtroom 17 for the first appearance hearings for adults (sometimes called the advisory or PP court). The adult hearings in Courtroom 17 typically begin around 11:00 a.m. on weekends or holidays but arrive early.

Click here to see the first appearance court summary sheet, which is updated daily and lists the inmates scheduled for first appearance court that day.

Attorney for First Appearance Court in Tampa, FL

The summary provided here is presented only for informational purposes. New administrative orders or procedures are published regularly and may not be reflected in this article.

No one should rely on this information without talking to a Tampa criminal defense attorney experienced in handling emergency bond hearings in Hillsborough County, FL. Contact an attorney at Sammis Law Firm to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case.

Retaining an attorney before the bond hearing is often the best way to ensure a reasonable bond is set or that an individual is released ROR (or on a signature bond without posting any money) when appropriate.

Additionally, an attorney can present favorable evidence to the prosecutor to request or demand that no charges are formally filed or that only reduced charges are filed. The prosecutor often makes the filing decision within 21 days of the arrest.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are also experienced in helping the defendant bring a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to a higher court to test the legality of the circuit court’s order setting bond and imposing other pre-trial release conditions.

The appellate court could grant the writ and vacate the erroneously imposed bond requirement when appropriate. Contact us to speak with an attorney immediately about your case.

Call 813-250-0500.

What is PP Court in Tampa, FL?

In Tampa, FL, the first appearing advisory hearings are called “PP Court.” The hearings must occur within 24 hours after an arrest or shortly thereafter. If the person is booked into jail before midnight, they will appear on the court’s calendar the following day for a first appearance advisory hearing. Administrative Order S-2012-063 controls the rules for the first appearance court in Hillsborough County, FL.

For an arrest made in Hillsborough County, any individual who does not immediately bond out of jail will be brought to first appearance court. For some types of charges, such as domestic violence, the person is not allowed to post a bond before the first appearance.

Some individuals retain a private criminal defense attorney to represent them before the first appearance hearing.  If you cannot afford a private attorney, the court will appoint an assistant public defender to represent you.

A special courtroom is set up at the Orient Road Jail, and another is set up at the Faulkenburg Road Jail. The judge overseeing the proceedings is located at the main courthouse in Tampa. Video and audio equipment connects the three courtrooms.

An assistant public defender is typically present at each jail facility, and a third public defender is typically in the main courtroom with the judge and prosecutor. Private attorneys usually appear in the main courtroom, even when their clients are at the Orient Road Jail or the Faulkenburg Road Jail. The public can also attend the first appearance hearing by going to the main courtroom.

For the proper and efficient administration of justice, the judges in Hillsborough County have found it necessary to operate a special division to handle the following:

  • first appearances;
  • arraignments;
  • bond matters;
  • adversary hearings;
  • some motions for the return of property;
  • hearings to contest the State Attorney’s attempt to get a subpoena for medical records during a DUI investigation (called a “Hunter Hearing”); and
  • miscellaneous criminal matters not assigned to a division.

The first appearance court also handles certain emergencies in criminal cases, misdemeanor probation violations, and other matters that the chief judge may designate.

For more than 22 years, the Thirteenth Circuit Court has operated the First Appearance and Emergency Criminal Division. This division is called Division “O.” Today, division “O” uses audio and video devices to conduct certain court proceedings for incarcerated individuals at the Orient Road Jail or the Faulkenburg Road Jail.

In an administrative order that became effective on January 1, 2013, many of the procedures for First Appearance / Emergency Division “O” were updated. The chief judge signed the order under the power granted by Article V, section 2(d) of the Florida Constitution; Section 43.26, Florida Statutes; and Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215(b)(2).

The judge hearing a case in first appearance court should have certain information, including:

  • the driving history;
  • the rap sheets;
  • the information or charging document;
  • the criminal report affidavits;
  • portions of files of the probation department, state attorney, and clerk of the court.

Is Bond Set at First Appearance?

The Hillsborough County Administrative Order ADM ORD 5-2008-160 for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit provides that “no bond” will be allowed before the first appearance in certain cases.

Those cases with no bond include:

Additionally, crimes charged under the gang enforcement provisions or subject to enhanced penalties under Florida’s Gang Enforcement and Prevention statutes in Chapter 874 are also ineligible for bond before first appearance under Florida Statute Section 903.046(2)(1).

Types of Proceedings in First Appearance Court

The administrative order provides that the different types of proceedings to be handled in First Appearance / Emergency Criminal Court Division “O” include all of the following:

  • First appearance hearings on all criminal cases;
  • Traffic and misdemeanor violation of probation (“VOP”) hearings for incarcerated defendants except:
    • in cases in which new misdemeanor or traffic charges accompany the VOP and the defendant pleads not guilty on the new charge(s) at arraignment; or
    • in instances in which a defendant is on felony probation and misdemeanor probation when a new misdemeanor charge is allegedly committed by the defendant);
  • Bond motions and release on recognizance (ROR) motions for all traffic and misdemeanor cases prior to and at arraignment;
  • Traffic and misdemeanor arraignment hearings for incarcerated defendants;
  • Bond and release on recognizance motions on felony cases not assigned to a division;
  • Petitions to seal and expunge records in cases that have no division assignment;
  • Witness extraditions;
  • Governor warrants;
  • Fugitive warrants;
  • Adversary preliminary hearings;
  • Matters relating to investigative subpoenas issued by the state attorney;
  • Motions to quash in criminal cases that have no division assignment;
  • Circuit criminal matters when the assigned judge is on leave;
  • Other circuit criminal matters relating to cases that have no division assignment;
  • Petitions seeking the return of any firearm seized by law enforcement under section 933.14(3), Florida Statutes, where no arrest was made and no case has been established in the court system;
  • Other circuit criminal matters upon request or approval of the assigned judge; and
  • Any emergency criminal matter that is not assigned to another division.

“No Bond” Requirements under Florida Law

Administrative Order 5-2008-160 replaces Administrative Order 5-2007-085, which provides a uniform bail bond schedule and procedures.

The administrative orders deal with all aspects of the criminal justice division procedures, including how the clerk determines which division should be assigned in a particular case. These administrative rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

The “no bond” procedures after an arrest in Pinellas County, Polk County, Pasco County, and Hernando County may vary slightly. Additionally, different judges have different methods for hearing emergency bond motions.

The bail bond schedule allows most individuals arrested to post a bond before their first appearance. The scheduled bond amounts are not supposed to bind any judge to that amount at first appearance.

In other words, the judges can either lower or raise the bond at first appearance. Instead, the judges must follow the Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.131 criteria and Florida Statute Section 903.046.

First Appearance Hearing Required in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL

If the individual is arrested for any offense on the list provided below, then that individual will not be eligible for bond before the first appearance.

At first appearance, the judge can determine if any bond will be set depending on the particular facts and circumstances of the case. The list of offenses that are not eligible for bond before the first appearance includes:

  • Failure of Defendant on Bail to Appear under Florida Statute Section 843.15;
  • Any act of Domestic Violence under Florida statute section 741.2901(3) including misdemeanor offenses for domestic battery;
  • Violation of Domestic Violence Injunction under Florida statute section 741.30(9)(b);
  • Violation of Pretrial Release when the original arrest was for domestic violence under Florida Statute section 741.29(6);
  • Any Violation of Repeat Violence Injunction when the alleged violation involves repeat violence under Florida Statute Section 784.046(9)(b);
  • Any Capital Felony;
  • Any Life Felony;
  • Any First Degree Felony Punishable by Life (PBL);
  • Sexual Battery;
  • Arson;
  • Carjacking;
  • Escape;
  • DUI manslaughter;
  • Retaliating against a witness under Florida Statute Section 914.23;
  • Any drug trafficking offenses such as trafficking in cocaine or trafficking in marijuana (which may also be subject to a Nebbia or Nebia hold);
  • Aggravated child abuse;
  • All gang-related offenses under Florida Statute Chapter 874;
  • Attempt to commit first-degree murder (also includes solicitation or conspiracy); and
  • Attempt to commit second-degree murder (also includes solicitation or conspiracy).

Failure to Appear Warrants from Hillsborough County, FL

If the individual is arrested for a failure to appear warrant or arrested on a violation of probation warrant, the bond will generally be the amount provided for in the warrant itself.

If the warrant does not provide for a specific bond amount to be set, the judge may continue the “no bond” requirement until the case is heard before the judge that issued the warrant.

The judge, at first appearance, has the discretion to set the bond in accordance with the provisions of this administrative order.

Uniform Bond Schedule in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL

A person arrested for a crime may be released on bond under the uniform schedule before the first appearance unless the “no bond” procedures set under sections 2 and 3 of this administrative order apply. In some cases, the bond schedule is based on the degree of the offense or the type of charge. Therefore, the uniform bond schedule provides:

  • First Degree Felony – bond set at $15,000;
  • Second Degree Felony – bond set at $7,500;
  • Third Degree Felony – bond set at $2,000;
  • First Degree Misdemeanor including all DUI cases such as a first DUI, second DUI, third DUI (when charged as a misdemeanor), and DUI with property damage or non-serious bodily injury – bond set at $500;
  • Second Degree Misdemeanor – bond set at $250;
  • Hillsborough County Ordinance Violation or certain City Ordinance Violations (including the City of Tampa’s open container citation) – bond set at $250.

Lack of Probable Cause at the First Non-Adversary Probable Cause Hearing

One thing determined at the first appearance is whether probable cause exists in the case. If the judge finds that there was no probable cause, then the court must “release the defendant” from custody as required by Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.133(a)(4) ( “If probable cause is not found … the defendant shall be released from custody….”).

This type of release (before the filing of formal charges) is a recognition that the defendant should not be in custody or on any form of pretrial release or supervision because his arrest was made in the absence of probable cause (or at the very least, in the absence of proof by the State that it was made with probable cause).

Under these circumstances, a release from custody, without conditions, places the defendant in the same position (from a custodial, liberty, and supervisory standpoint) he was in before his arrest.

The singular exception, provided by rule, is that the defendant released from custody must appear for trial. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.133(a)(5) (“A release required by this rule does not void further prosecution by information or indictment but does prohibit any restraint on liberty other than appearing for trial”).

This “condition” merely recognizes that a finding of no probable cause does not terminate the prosecution, and the court maintains jurisdiction over the case and the defendant.

As a result, the defendant remains subject to the court’s order that he appear for trial. Even the defendant has conceded the viability of this requirement for one who has been “released from custody” without conditions. If the court does not find probable cause at an adversary preliminary hearing, then the court can still grant the release.

If formal charges are filed thereafter, the defendant is “released on recognizance, subject to the condition that he or she appears at all court proceedings.” This type of “pretrial release” as that term of art is used in sections 903.047 and 903.0471.

New Charges as a Violation of Pre-Trial Release Conditions

If the defendant is released on bond after a preliminary finding of probable cause and is then arrested for new charges allegedly committed while the prior case is still pending, then the court can find that the new charges violate pre-trial release conditions in the first case.

Section 903.047(1)(a), Florida Statutes (2013) provides:

(1) As a condition of pretrial release, whether such release is by surety bail bond or recognizance bond or in some other form, the defendant shall:

(a) Refrain from criminal activity of any kind.

Under Section 907.041, Florida Statutes (2013), “a court may, on its own motion, revoke pretrial release and order pretrial detention if the court finds probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a new crime while on pretrial release.” Additionally, for the new charge, the court can consider the defendant’s pending charge in determining the amount of bail or other conditions of release for the new arrest.

For example, Section § 903.046(2)(g), Fla. Stat. (2013), provides that when determining whether to release a defendant on bail or other conditions, the court shall consider “[w]hether the defendant is already on release pending resolution of another criminal proceeding.”

Rule 3.133(c) Motions to Reconsider the Question of Probable Cause

The State had an available remedy if it wanted the court to reconsider the question of probable cause and the defendant’s release status. In those cases, the State can file a motion under rule 3.133(c), which provides:

c) Additional Nonadversary Probable Cause Determinations and Preliminary Hearings.

If there has been a finding of no probable cause at a non-adversary determination or adversary preliminary hearing, or if the specified time periods for holding a non-adversary probable cause determination have not been complied with, a judge may thereafter make a determination of probable cause at a non-adversary probable cause determination, in which event the defendant shall be retained in custody or returned to custody upon appropriate process issued by the judge.

A defendant who has been retained in custody or returned to custody by such a determination shall be allowed an adversary preliminary hearing in all instances in which a felony offense is charged.

Gang Enforcement Statutes and “No Bond” Requirements

The Florida Legislature has recently enacted specific laws limiting the judge’s discretion to set bonds in some instances unless particular procedures are followed. This legislation required the Chief Judge in Hillsborough County to modify the administrative rules to comply with the recent legislation.

Specific procedures must be followed when a bond is set before the first appearance because in the following types of cases, no bond will be allowed before the first appearance:

  • Any person charged with a violation of Florida’s Gang Enforcement and Prevention statutes found in Chapter 874; or
  • Any person subject to enhanced punishments under Florida’s Gang Enforcement and Prevention statutes.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.