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Notice to Appear for Misdemeanor Charges

If you received a "notice to appear" for misdemeanor charges in Tampa or Plant City, Hillsborough County, Florida? If so, contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case. Our offices are located in downtown Tampa. We focus on fighting misdemeanor cases right here in Hillsborough County.

A notice to appear is common for both first degree and second degree misdemeanor charges including possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, shoplifting (retail theft or petit theft), driving while license suspended with knowledge, trespass, resisting without violence, or under aged possession of alcohol. In many of these cases, the person accused as no prior criminal record.

Regardless of whether you are formally arrested and held at the county jail or released at the scene with a notice to appear, the result is the same - you are charged with a crime. If you go to court and enter a plea of guilty or no contest then you will have a criminal record that carries a host of indirect consequences that might last a lifetime. If you fail to appear then an arrest warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Call an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the case. The best result is getting the prosecutor to drop the charges. In other cases, the best result is asking the court to dismiss the charges. Call 813-250-0500 to discuss the best way to resolve the criminal charges pending against you after a notice to appear is issued.


What is a notice to appear?

Rule 3.125(a) defines "notice to appear" to mean 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."

When you receive a notice to appear you are essentially arrested and released before being formally booked into the county jail. The Notice to Appear acts much like a summons (except it is issued by a law enforcement officer instead of a judge). The form for the Notice to Appear is set forth in Rule 3.125(l), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.

If you are issued a notice to appear it will direct you to comply with certain instructions such as appearing in court at a designated time and place. If you fail to appear in court at the appropriate time, the trial court is required to issue an arrest warrant for your arrest.

The notice to appear may be issued by the arresting officer at the time of the arrest. Alternatively, you may be brought to the police headquarters or jail and released from that location with a notice to appear.


Notice to Appear issued by the Arresting Officer

If a person is arrested for a second degree or first degree misdemeanor or a municipal or county ordinance violation, then a notice to appear can be issued unless:

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

Notice to Appear issued by the Booking Officer

If a person is arrested for a second degree or first degree misdemeanor or a municipal or county ordinance violence, then a notice to appear can be issued by the booking officer. In many of these cases the arresting officer does not issue notice to appear because of one of the exceptions listed in subdivision (b).

After the defendant is taken to the county jail, sheriff's office or the police department, then the booking officer may issue notice to appear if the officer determines that there is a likelihood that the accused will appear as directed, based on a reasonable investigation of the following:

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

Notice to Appear Issued by Law Enforcement Agencies in Hillsborough County, FL

For a notice to appear at the courthouse in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County, FL, the notice can be issued by any one of the following law enforcement agencies: 

  1. the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office;
  2. the Tampa Police Department;
  3. the Florida Highway Patrol;
  4. the Temple Terrace Police Department; or
  5. the Plant City Police Department.

What Happens After a Failure to Appear?

Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure, Rule 3.125(h) provides: 

If a person signs a written notice to appear and fails to respond to the notice to appear, a warrant of arrest shall be issued under rule 3.121.

Rule 3.121 provides for the issuance of an arrest warrant by a judge in a courtroom after the court determines that the person who signed the notice failed to appear in court. If an active arrest warrant has been issued for your arrest because you failed to appear in court after being issued a notice to appear by the arresting officer, then it is particularly important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.


Additional Resources:

Warrant in Pinellas County- Learn more about failure to appear warrants issued in the courthouses in Clearwater and St. Petersburg, FL.

Warrant in Hernando County- Learn more about failure to appear warrants issued in the courthouse in Brooksville, FL.


Finding an Attorney for a Notice to Appear in Tampa, FL

If you were issued a citation or notice to appear to answer criminal charges for a misdemeanor in Tampa or Plant City, FL, then contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. Our offices are right here in downtown Tampa. We are experienced in fighting these types of cases. Call 813-250-0500.

Last updated by on Thursday, February 12, 2015.