OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER 12th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT of FLORIDA LARRY L. EGER, Public Defender Serving, DeSoto, Manatee, & Sarasota Counties


Misdemeanor, Felony and Criminal Traffic

If you are an adult and are charged with a crime, the criminal process will start with some type of contact with law enforcement. When a law enforcement officer feels that a crime has been committed, he or she will write a report. This report will either be accompanied by a Notice to Appear, a request for a summons or warrant or an arrest.

Notice to Appear, Summons or Warrant, and Arrest

A Notice to Appear is basically a ticket. This notice explains what you are charged with and lists a court date for your arraignment. Notices to Appear are common with traffic crimes such as Driving With a Suspended License and city ordinance violations such as Open Container. A Notice to Appear charges you with a crime. If you do not appear for the court date listed on the ticket you can be arrested for failing to appear in Court.
If the officer comes to investigate a crime and feels that a crime has been committed, the officer may make an arrest. If you are arrested you are handcuffed and taken to the jail to be held until you post bond or are released on other terms.

At times an officer will come to investigate an alleged crime and the party will not be present. Or, if the party is present, the officer may not be sure that there is enough evidence to actually make an arrest. In these cases the officer will make a request to the State Attorney for a summons or warrant to be issued in the case. A summons is a paper served to you by a civil deputy explaining that you have been charged with a crime and that your presence is required in Court on a certain date to answer to the crime charged. If you are given a summons, you will not be arrested so long as you appear at the scheduled court date.

If the officers cannot locate you to serve the summons, or if the State Attorney or Judge feels it is necessary, a warrant can be issued for your arrest. A warrant is a paper commanding law enforcement to arrest you and bring you to jail to answer for the crime charged.
If you are arrested for a crime or for a warrant, your next court appearance if you do not bond out of jail is your first appearance.

First Appearance

A first appearance is just that, your first appearance before a judge after your arrest. The purpose of a first appearance is to determine if there was probable cause (or basically a good reason) for the officers to make an arrest, and to determine what terms of release are necessary to ensure that a person will come back for the next court date.


Pre-Trial Conference or Case Management

Pleas and Motions

Docket Sounding




Championing the accused with the utmost professionalism and humanity