Notice to Appear- What it is and How it Can Affect Your Criminal Record

Notice to Appear- What it is and How it Can Affect Your Criminal Record

What is a notice to appear?PoliceofficerNoticetoAppear

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.


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.


Contact My Office

Should you have any additional questions concerning your Notice to Appear case contact my office at 407-415-9626 or