In the State of Florida, police officers may issue a written promise to appear (PTA) instead of physically arresting you.
Police officers may issue PTAs for misdemeanor offenses only. If you are suspected of committing a felony, you will be physically arrested.
Police officers issue PTAs for a number of reasons. For one, maybe you don't have a prior criminal history, therefore you are not considered to be a danger to the community.
Or maybe you have a nearby residence and are not a flight risk.
The law gives police officers broad discretion in whether to issue a PTA for a misdemeanor or whether to physically arrest and take you to jail.
But make no mistake about it: If you have received a written promise to appear, you have been arrested!
Many people think that being issued a written promise to appear is no different than receiving a traffic ticket. Wrong! You can't go to jail for receiving a traffic ticket. Misdemeanors are punishable by jail.
Some of the misdemeanors for which you may receive a written PTA are:
- Possession of cannabis (marijuana)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Resisting an officer without violence
- Disorderly conduct
- Disorderly intoxication
- Contracting without a license
- Business without a license
- Driving while license suspended (DWLS)
- Reckless driving
- No valid driver's license (NVDL)
- Leaving the scene of an accident (LSA)
If you receive a PTA you should contact a South Florida criminal defense attorney right away. That's because you are facing criminal charges and should not represent yourself.
When you receive a PTA, your information will be entered into the Clerk of Courts database. In Miami-Dade County, information regarding your arrest will be available to the public via the Miami-Dade Clerk's website. In Broward County, your information will be made public via the Broward County Clerk's website.
And even if your charges are dismissed, you will still have a public record of your arrest unless you take measures to expunge your record.
If you take a plea, you may then want to seal your record.
Don't think that just because the cop didn't take you to jail doesn't mean that you were not arrested. If you received a written promise to appear, you have been arrested.
Don't make any decisions that may hurt you in the future. Employers do not look kindly upon arrest records. It is best to let a qualified criminal lawyer handle your charges, and ultimately assist you in sealing or expunging your arrest.
After all, you would like to be able to legally deny your arrest one day, wouldn't you?
If you have received a promise to appear for any misdemeanor offense in Miami-Dade or Broward County, call me.