What is a First Appearance Hearing?

When someone is arrested in Florida, they are usually booked into jail. If a person is arrested on a warrant or a capias, they might be able to be bonded out right away if there is a bond endorced on the warrant, but often a warrant calls for a “no bond”  and the arrested person must see a judge the next day at a hearing called “First Appearance.” Many people arrested, however, are incarcerated after what are referred to as “on view” arrests, where a law enforcement officer  has witnessed a crime being committed, or has reason to believe a crime has occurred. At the first appearance hearing, a judge will, among other things, do these three things; make sure the arrested person is aware of his charges, determine if he qualifies for a public defender (and appoint one if he does qualify for one), and will make a bond determination.

The judge’s options include letting the defendant go without having to post a bond, setting a monetary bond for each of his charges, or keeping him in jail with no bond, which means obviously he’s not going anywhere. If monetary bonds are set, these can be paid in cash at the jail, or a bail bond agent can be hired to post them. In Florida, the fee for the bondsman putting up the full amount of the bond is 10% of the face amount of the bond or bonds, and is a non-refundable fee. Most bondsman charge a minimum fee of one hundred dollar for writing each bond. Each charge will usually carry a seperate bond.

Florida Statute 903.011 says that a bail bond may be posted for any bond set by a judge at first appearance, or endorsed on a capias, as a “cash only” bond, but many jails defer to the judge’s wishes and demand the full bond amount be posted in cash before the incarcerated person can be released. The statutes also says that differing monetary amounts may not be set for a cash bond or a surety bond for the same charge.

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