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First Appearance/Arraignment

Once you have been booked into jail, if you are not fortunate enough to be released right away, you will be taken before a judge within 24 hours.  This hearing is called the “advisory hearing,” or “first appearance.”  At the hearing will be a judge, a prosecutor and possibly a Public Defender.  In some areas, you will physically stand in front of the judge.  In other places, the hearing takes place by video.

At the hearing, the judge will:

·         Advise you of the charges against you.

·         Determine if the police have enough legal reason to arrest you, known as “probable cause.”

·         Determine your bond amount if one has not been already set.

·         Ask how you plead to the charges.

·         Ask if you will hire a lawyer or if you are unable to afford one, appoint the Office of the Public Defender.

It is very important during this hearing to not talk about anything and only answer the judge’s questions. As you hear in the movies and on TV, you have a right to remain silent and if you say anything about the charges or your side of the story, you may make a mistake and those statements can and will be used as evidence against you if the State Attorney decides to formally charge you.


Often at the hearing, the judge may ask the prosecutor to read off your record.  The prosecutor should read off only prior convictions if you have any.  The judge can and should only take into consideration your prior convictions.  Sometimes, a person who is interested in your case, such as a person you may be accused of committing a crime against, will appear and give a statement to the judge.  Other times, a friend or loved one will appear to let the judge know that you have support if you should be released.

The hearing can be very quick, sometimes lasting only a matter of seconds.  A lot of information will be given to you in a very short amount of time and you will be asked to make decisions that could affect the rest of your life.  If you are not sure how to answer, you can ask the judge to explain what the question means.  Even if the judge seems grumpy at you, be polite and ask for an explanation.  Do not argue with the judge or lose your temper.

When you hire an attorney as soon as you can after you are arrested, the attorney can often visit you right away in jail to get your statement.  They can also talk to friends and family members to determine how much support you have in the community and speak to people who would be willing to speak up for you.  An attorney can make statements on your behalf at the first appearance hearing that are favorable for you without you saying anything to the judge. The attorney can challenge “probable cause,” argue for your release and present a short statement about your side of the story.

Kevin has helped people just like you get a quick release from jail or argued to have a reasonable bond set allowing you to bond out of jail within 24 hours of your arrest.  Time is of the essence:  staying in jail can cause you to lose your job, lose your home, lose social security benefits. Go to or contact Kevin at (727) 401-4112 or by email at to find out how Kevin can help you or your loved one get out of jail.

COVID-19 and Your Court Hearing.

All courts are open, however, many courts are still doing hearings by video.  If you are unsure if you need to be in court, and you do not have an attorney, give us a call and we can guide you! We do not charge for basic informational calls.

If you do have to appear in court, remember these helpful tips:

Wear a mask.
Bring only your identification.
Be prepared to answer questions about any symptoms you may have.


Call me at (727) 401-4112 or email me at and I will try to get your hearing rescheduled!  You may be required to provide proof, such as a COVID test or some other documentation.