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Advisories / First Appearance in Pinellas

Update: The courthouses in the Sixth Judicial Circuit will be closed Monday, September 28th, in observance of Yom Kippur, except for the first-appearance hearings on Monday. First appearances in Pinellas County will be at the County Justice Center at 14250 49th Street North, Clearwater, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 14.

After an arrest in Pinellas County, FL, if the defendant does not immediately bond out, then he or she is brought to a first appearance before the judge known as the “advisory.” The first appearance is supposed to take place within 24 hours of the arrest or as soon thereafter as possible.

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 in order to determine whether probable cause exists for the arrest.

The criminal defense attorney can appear in the courtroom to argue that no probable cause supports the arrests. If the judge does not find that probable cause supports the charges, then the court can order the defendant to be released.

Second, the judge determines the bond amount and pre-trial release conditions. The court can either 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 in person at the advisory to argue for the best pre-trial release conditions.

Lawyer for Advisory Hearings in Clearwater, FL

If you were arrested in Pinellas County, FL, then 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. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call 813-250-0500.

The Advisory During COVID-19 in Pinellas County, FL

Although many types of court proceedings have been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Supreme Court has deemed advisories or first appearance hearings as “mission-critical.”

Only “mission-critical” hearings are still taking place on a daily basis in accordance with Florida law.

Although the judge appears in the courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center in Clearwater, the defendant listens via video conference from the Pinellas County Jail.

First appearances in Pinellas County will be at the County Justice Center at 14250 49th Street North, Clearwater, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 14.

First appearances in Pasco County will 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.

Other Mission-Critical Hearings in Pinellas County

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 the Florida Supreme Court has said must proceed include the following:

  1. Criminal arraignments when a defendant is not in custody but enters a plea, but 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 has to decide 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 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, Judge Rondolino ordered that anyone who is arrested on a misdemeanor violation of the coronavirus quarantine will be held without bond at the jails in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

This article was last updated on Thursday, September 3, 2020.

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Advisories / First Appearance