What is a Notice to Appear in Florida?

If you were issued a notice to appear, you may have some questions about this ticket. Let’s discuss what exactly a notice to appear is.

What is a Notice to Appear Ticket?

A notice to appear ticket is a criminal citation. With certain misdemeanor cases, a police officer may give the accused a notice to appear instead of arresting him or her. Here are three examples that will explain how notice to appear citations are used:

  1. John is stopped for shoplifting at Wal-Mart in Duval County. The store’s loss prevention personnel calls the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The responding police officer does not arrest John. Instead, he issues a notice to appear citation for petit theft in Jacksonville. John or his Jacksonville criminal lawyer must set a court date for this criminal charge.
  2. Sarah is pulled over for running a red light in Clay County. The Clay County police officer asks if he can search her car, and she gives him permission. He finds marijuana in the car. Technically, he could arrest Sarah on a Florida possession of marijuana charge. He did not arrest her. He gave her a notice to appear ticket for possession of cannabis.
  3. Chris is stopped for speeding in St. Johns County. He is issued a Florida speeding ticket. He did not know that his drivers license was suspended. He was also given a ticket for unknowingly driving on a suspended license in Florida.

In the examples above, John and Sarah were issued notice to appear citations. Chris was given civil traffic tickets. John and Sarah have been accused of committing crimes. They were given notice to appear citations in lieu of being arrested. This means that they could have been arrested but were not arrested. In Chris’ case, he was given Florida traffic tickets for civil infractions. This is not criminal. He cannot be arrested for this. Chris was not given a notice to appear.

Notice to Appear is Similar to an Arrest

Is a notice to appear serious? Yes. If you are issued a notice to appear ticket, this is much more serious than a basic Jacksonville traffic ticket. A notice to appear is similar to an arrest, as it will show up on a Florida criminal background check. You may have to disclose it on job applications. It could lead to a criminal conviction. If you have been given a notice to appear, you should consider hiring a Jacksonville criminal attorney. Call (904) 564-2525 to speak with an experienced criminal lawyer in Jacksonville FL.

Florida Law for Notice to Appear

Is there a Florida law that explains what a notice to appear is? Yes. Rule 3.125 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure is the law that allows law enforcement to issue these citations. Rule 3.125(a) gives the definition of a notice to appear. It states, “Unless indicated otherwise, notice to appear means a written order issued by a law enforcement officer in lieu of physical arrest requiring a person accused of violating the law to appear in a designated court or governmental office at a specified date and time.”

Who May Issue a Florida Notice to Appear Citation?

A notice to appear may be given to a defendant by the arresting officer or the booking officer. An arresting officer may issue a notice to appear for a misdemeanor or city ordinance unless:

  1. the accused fails or refuses to sufficiently identify himself or herself or supply the required information;
  2. the accused refuses to sign the notice to appear;
  3. the officer has reason to believe that the continued liberty of the accused constitutes an unreasonable risk of bodily injury to the accused or others;
  4. the accused has no ties with the jurisdiction reasonably sufficient to assure the accused’s appearance or there is substantial risk that the accused will refuse to respond to the notice;
  5. the officer has any suspicion that the accused may be wanted in any jurisdiction; or
  6. it appears that the accused previously has failed to respond to a notice or a summons or has violated the conditions of any pretrial release program.

Let’s go back to our first example above where John has been accused of petit theft in Jacksonville. What if the first responding officer decided to arrest him? If that is the case, the arresting officer will take John to the Duval County jail to be booked. Even though John as already been taken to jail, he may still technically be issued a notice to appear. The booking officer at the jail has the authority to write notice to appear tickets under Florida Criminal Rule 3.125(c). In order to do so, he must make a reasonable investigation of the defendant’s:

  1. residence and length of residence in the community;
  2. family ties in the community;
  3. employment record;
  4. character and mental condition;
  5. past record of convictions; or
  6. past history of appearance at court proceedings.

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