First Appearance in Sarasota, FL

The rules the court follows at the first appearance hearing in Sarasota, FL, can be found in Administrative Order No. 2018-17.3. The Administrative Order became effective on November 1, 2018, and remains in effect until modified or rescinded.

Under Rule 3 .131 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, unless a person is charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment and the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great, every person charged with a crime or a violation of a municipal or county ordinance shall be entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions.

If no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from the risk of physical harm to a person, assure the presence of the accused at trial, or assure the integrity of the judicial process, the accused may be detained.

Section 903.046, Florida Statutes, provides that the purpose of a bail determination in criminal proceedings is to ensure the criminal defendant’s appearance at subsequent proceedings and to protect the community against unreasonable danger from the criminal defendant.

Section 903.046, Florida Statutes, also provides that in determining whether to release a defendant on bail or other conditions and what that bail or those conditions may be, the court shall consider:

  • the nature and circumstances of the offense charged;
  • the weight of the evidence against the defendant;
  • the defendant’s family ties, length of residence in the community, employment history, financial resources, and mental condition;
  • the defendant’s past and present conduct, including any record of convictions, previous flight to avoid prosecution, or failure to appear at court proceedings;
  • the nature and probability of danger which the defendant’s release poses to the community; the source of funds used to post bail;
  • the defendant’s current legal status, including whether the defendant is already on pretrial release or court-ordered supervision;
  • the street value of any drug or controlled substance connected to or involved in the criminal charge;
  • the nature and probability of intimidation and danger to victims; and
  • whether there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a new crime while on pretrial release.

Notice of Appearance in Sarasota County, FL

Sarasota County has established a 24/7 Pretrial Services Program that interviews every eligible defendant who is arrested and is thus capable of implementing the delegated release authority program on a pilot basis.

Sarasota County Pretrial Services (Pretrial Services) and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office have the authority, in limited circumstances, to release defendants from the Sarasota County Jail with a Notice to Appear and under the supervision of Pretrial Services.

Defendant’s Eligible for Release

All defendants are eligible for release when presented to the Sarasota County Jail with a new criminal charge or charges wherein the most serious offense is:

  • a violation of a municipal or county ordinance;
  • a misdemeanor; or
  • a 3rd-degree felony within offense levels 1 or 2 as delineated in F.S. 921.0022(3)(a) and 3(b) (Criminal Punishment Code; Offense Severity Ranking Chart (attached)).

Defendants approved for release shall be supervised by Sarasota Pretrial Services using the corresponding supervision level and conditions on the approved Pretrial Release Decision Matrix.

Defendant’s Not Eligible for Release

Bails is governed by the bond schedule authorized under AO 2013-11.3 or the latest Administrative Order authorizing a bond schedule for the Twelfth Circuit.

If unable to post bail, the defendant shall be brought before the presiding judge at the next first appearance hearing. The circumstances that preclude release under section one above are:

  • The defendant has active warrants and/or holds for another jurisdiction;
  • The defendant resides out of state;
  • The defendant is on any form of active supervision (i.e. probation, community control, controlled release, conditional release, supervised release, or has a pending failure to appear (FTA));
  • The defendant has an active, pending felony case that occurred before to the new charge(s) offense date;
  • The defendant has a prior felony conviction (adjudication of guilt or withheld adjudication) within the last two (2) years;
  • The defendant is charged with a violation of any section of Florida Statutes related to the Exploitation of the Elderly or Stalking, including cyber-stalking;
  • The defendant is required to register as a sexual offender or a sexual predator if convicted on the current arrest charges;
  • The defendant is arrested for any firearm or weapons offense under Chapters 784 and 790, Florida Statutes;
  • The defendant is arrested for any offense involving Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Boating under the Influence (BUI), or Operating an Aircraft under the Influence;
  • The defendant is arrested for any offense under Chapter 784, including battery or domestic battery, or any violation of an injunction under Chapter 784 or Chapter 741;
  • The defendant is arrested for Driving While License Suspended under Chapter 322, Florida Statutes, wherein the underlying suspension is for DUI, or the defendant is deemed a Habitual Traffic Offender;
  • The defendant scores more than eight (8) points on the Pretrial Risk Decision Matrix used by Pretrial Services;
  • The defendant is charged with any offense (misdemeanor or felony) under Chapter 800 (Lewdness; Indecent Exposure) or Chapter 794 (Sexual Battery), Florida Statutes;
  • The defendant has been arrested for any of the following offenses:
    • Storing or leaving a loaded firearm within reach of a minor (F .S. 784.05)
    • False personation of a firefighter, sheriff, or police officer (F.S. 843.08)
    • Fighting or baiting animals (F.S. 828.123(3))
    • Animal Cruelty (F.S. 828.12)
    • Voyeurism (F.S. 810.14)
    • Video Voyeurism (F .S. 810.145)
    • Sale or delivery of counterfeit controlled substances (F.S. 831.3 l(l)(a))
  • The defendant is arrested for an offense that involves fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer (F.S. 316.1935(1) or F.S. 843.18);
  • The defendant is arrested for an offense in violation of a court order involving taking or enticing a minor beyond state limits (F.S. 787.04(1));
  • The defendant is arrested for an offense involving fraud, forgery, or the use of another person’s credit card or credit history;
  • The defendant appears to be under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance; or
  • The defendant is exhibiting aggressive behavior or behavior suggesting an altered mental state.

Defendant’s Arrested Under a Warrant or Capias

Defendants arrested under a warrant or capias shall not be released under section one. Instead, they are held according to the bond set on the warrant or capias and shall be brought to the next available First Appearance for a bond review if unable to post bond.

However, defendants arrested pursuant to a misdemeanor violation of probation warrant, whose only violation is the failure to pay fines, fees, court costs, or supervision costs, shall be eligible for release pursuant to section one above.

Pretrial Services shall be responsible for reviewing the exclusions in section two for any eligible defendants and forwarding the names of those approved for release under section one and their conditions of release to Sarasota County Jail staff.

Jail staff will check for outstanding warrants and, if all criteria are met, shall release the defendant with the Rules and Regulations provided by Pretrial Services with a Notice to Appear and the next available arraignment date.

If an arrestee requires a Baker or Marchman Act evaluation, jail staff will proceed accordingly upon release from custody.

Any defendant who is not released with a Notice to Appear under the supervision of Pretrial Services or released on his or her own recognizance shall be held under the current bond schedule of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit and shall be brought to the next available First Appearance hearing if bail or bond has not been posted prior thereto.

If Pretrial Services finds that a defendant qualifies for release under section one above, release under section one can be deferred to the First Appearance judge if, based on articulable facts documented on the Bail Determination Report, Pretrial Services is of the opinion that the defendant still poses a significant risk to not appear in court or is a danger to the community or himself or herself.

In such situations, the defendant shall be governed by the current bond schedule of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 26, 2023.