Miami First Appearance Lawyer
Representation for Magistrate Hearings in Fort Lauderdale
After you’re arrested for a criminal offense, you’ll be scheduled for a first appearance or magistrate hearing. During this proceeding, a judge will let you know what the charges against you are and make a probable cause determination. They may also set the amount of your bond. While the first appearance happens quickly, it can have a profound impact on the outcome of your case.
Our seasoned attorney at The Hoffman Firm can represent you at your first appearance, as well as subsequent proceedings in your case.
Schedule your free consultation right away by calling (305) 928-1669 for Miami. Call 954-737-3004 if you are in Broward County.
The Processes of First Appearance of Magistrate Hearings
According to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.130, every arrested person in the state should be taken in front of a judicial officer within 24 hours of their arrest. At your first appearance, a magistrate should immediately let you know of the charges against you and give you a copy of the complaint.
Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.111(a), once you are formally charged, you are entitled to appointment of counsel. This could happen as soon as possible after you’ve been detained or at the first appearance, whichever comes first.
Although you can have counsel appointed, it can be helpful to retain your own attorney even before you attend the first appearance. Having a lawyer on your side can prevent the police and/or prosecutor from taking more unilateral actions that could strengthen their case against you. For example, if you have an attorney, the State won’t be able to make you appear in a lineup unless it gets a court order and provides appropriate notice to your lawyer.
If you’re entitled to bond, at your first appearance, the magistrate will set an amount and conditions you must adhere to.
The judge may consider various factors when determining bail, including:
- The nature of the alleged crime,
- Your ties with the community, and
- Your criminal history
The magistrate is expected to be careful in setting bond, and the amount should only be increased when information or circumstances change. Setting bond too high could be considered not granting it at all.
Conditions of Pretrial Release
Once you’re told of the charges against you and the amount of bond, the court can set conditions for pretrial release. Generally, the terms are established when people have been arrested for crimes other than capital or life offenses in which proof of guilt is clear or the presumption is great, or when the state is seeking a pretrial detention order.
If a different judge has set your bond, a magistrate may consider appropriate conditions for your pretrial release, as long as the earlier-acting judge didn’t specifically stop this from happening.
In Florida, a first appearance magistrate should also determine if probable cause exists to keep you in custody. Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.133(a)(1), if you’re in custody and the necessary proof is available at the time of the first appearance, the court should make a probable cause determination within 48 hours of your arrest. Often, the magistrate does this simply by looking at the affidavit on which you were arrested. However, if probable cause doesn’t appear there, the State is afforded the opportunity to give the court more evidence.
When the magistrate determines that there is no probable cause, you will be released on your own recognizance. This means that you are trusted to come back for future court dates.
Guilty Pleas for Misdemeanors
The first appearance magistrate is supposed to accept guilty pleas misdemeanor charges such as disorderly offenses. While you might be tempted to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, know that this may have adverse consequences for you if you’re charged with a crime again.
Fighting for You Every Step of the Way
Sometimes people don’t realize that what happens at the first appearance may have consequences on later stages of criminal proceedings. They might think that they can get by without an attorney; however, it’s wise to retain legal counsel at the earliest possible opportunity. Our experienced Miami first appearance lawyer will listen to the facts of your circumstances and determine an effective strategy for your defense.
Contact an attorney immediately to ensure your freedom and escape legal penalties. Call (305) 928-1669 or fill out our online contact form if you are in Miami. Call 954-737-3004 if you are in Broward County. Se habla español.
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Attorney Evan Hoffman has over two decades of experience fighting for the accused.
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Florida Former State Prosecutor
Attorney Evan Hoffman has extensive knowledge of the strategies used by prosecutors throughout Florida.
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