Advisories / First Appearance in Pinellas

After an arrest in Pinellas County, FL, if the defendant does not immediately bond out, they are brought to a first appearance before the judge. These hearings are known as the first appearance or “advisory.”

The first appearance advisory hearing should occur within 24 hours of the arrest or as soon as possible. For this reason, the first appearance court is in session 365 days a year, even on weekends and holidays.

Although the judge, along with the prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, appears in the courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center at 14250 49th Street North in Clearwater, FL, the defendant typically appears remotely via video conference from the Pinellas County Jail.

First appearances in Pinellas County typically begin at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 14. At the advisory or first appearance hearing, the judge deals with three issues.

  • First, the judge reviews a defendant’s charges listed in the criminal report affidavit to determine whether probable cause exists for the arrest.
  • Second, the judge determines whether the defendant intends to represent themself, hire a private attorney, or ask for a court-appointed attorney.
  • Third, the court sets the pre-trial bond conditions.

Lawyer for Advisory Hearings in Clearwater, FL

If you were arrested in Pinellas County, FL, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent you at the first appearance hearing (also known as the “advisory”).

Your criminal defense attorney can determine whether a sufficient basis is listed in the criminal report affidavit and argue for the most favorable pre-trial release conditions. We represent clients arrested on a warrant or after the officer makes a warrantless arrest.

The criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in fighting felony and misdemeanor cases in Pinellas County, FL, and the entire Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We recently opened an office in Clearwater near the CJC Courthouse. Our office is at 14010 Roosevelt Blvd Suite 701, Clearwater, FL 33762-3820.

Don’t face the judge alone. Contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Clearwater, FL.

Call 727-210-7004.

What Happens at the Advisory in Pinellas County, FL?

What happens during the advisory first appearance hearing in Pinellas County, FL?

If you hire a criminal defense attorney, the attorney can appear in the courtroom in Clearwater, FL, to represent the person being detained.

First, the attorney will review the criminal report affidavit to determine whether probable cause exists to support the charge. If not, the attorney will make arguments in front of the judge, asking the judge to find that no probable cause exists.

If the judge agrees that no probable cause supports the charge, the court will release the defendant.

Second, if probable cause is found, the judge determines the bond amount and pre-trial release conditions. The court will either order no bond, set a bond amount, or release the defendant on his own recognizance. In some cases, the court can impose other pre-trial release conditions, such as wearing a CAM monitor or GPS.

Third, the judge determines whether an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office should be appointed. In many cases, the defendant will hire a private criminal defense attorney who can appear at the advisory to argue for the best pre-trial release conditions.

Other Mission-Critical Hearings During COVID-19 in Pinellas County

Even when many court proceedings were temporarily suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Supreme Court determined that advisories or first appearance hearings were “mission-critical.” All mission-critical hearings took place each day, even during the initial lockdowns.

In addition to advisory or first appearance hearings when the defendant appears before a judge within 24 hours of their arrest, other mission-critical hearings during the COVID-19 lockdown included:

  1. Criminal arraignments – when a defendant is not in custody but enters a plea only as necessary.
  2. Bond motions – for individuals in custody.
  3. Detention hearings, where a judge has to decide whether a child should be held.
  4. Shelter hearings – when a judge decides whether to remove a child from the home.
  5. Hearings on petitions for temporary injunctions – relating to the safety of an individual. (Beginning April 6, 2020, all violence injunction hearings in Pinellas were to be held in Courtroom One at the County Justice Center in Clearwater).
  6. Petitions by law enforcement agencies for risk-protection orders– where someone is allegedly posing a threat to someone else or themselves risks losing temporary custody of their firearms.
  7. Hearings on petitions for the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian.
  8. Hearings to determine whether an individual should be involuntarily committed under the state’s Baker or Marchman acts.
  9. Hearings on petitions for extraordinary writs as necessary to protect constitutional rights.
  10. Proceedings related to a violation of quarantine or isolation, a violation of an order to limit travel, a violation of public or private building closures, and a violation of a curfew.
    • On March 27, 2021, Judge Rondolino ordered that anyone arrested on a misdemeanor violation of the coronavirus quarantine will be held without bond at the jails in Pinellas and Pasco counties until their bond status was evaluated during the first appearance hearing.

Additional Resources

First appearances in Pasco County – The first appearances in Pasco County, FL, typically begin at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 1A at the West Pasco Judicial Center, 7530 Little Road, in New Port Richey, or in a courtroom in Dade City, FL.

This article was last updated on Friday, March 29, 2024.