Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

Criminal Summons in Florida

What happens upon receipt of a Criminal Summons in Florida? In some jurisdictions, the use of a Criminal Summons was part of criminal justice even prior to COVID. Some people are surprised to receive a Summons, while others are made aware of a criminal investigation and may be expecting it or relieved to receive a Summons instead of being arrested.

When the State of Florida files criminal charges and, presuming a person is not arrested on the scene of an alleged crime, there are two ways to notify the defendant. A criminal defendant is notified either by an arrest or by issuing a Summons, also called a Notice to Appear. When a person receives a Summons, they must respond or else the Judge will issue an arrest warrant. Most people should view receiving a Summons as better than being arrested.

Typically, the Sheriff’s Office will not discuss a Summons over the telephone, and someone has to physically appear at the Sheriff’s Office. A lawyer may be able to respond to the summons on behalf of the summonsed individual, which can be beneficial or just bring peace of mind. A person receiving a Summons in criminal cases should respond to the Summons by themselves or by a lawyer instead of choosing to be arrested. Upon responding to a Summons, an arrest can be avoided. As for timing and all the rules, the service of a Summons functions the same as an arrest. For example, it starts the clock of speedy trial.

In any criminal case, the accused is entitled to have a lawyer appointed, however, lawyers are not appointed to the accused during the investigation, arrest or Summons portions of the case. A Public Defender is assigned by the Court after the Summons is served or an arrest is made. For assistance responding to a Summons or any criminal case, please click, call, text (352) 371-9141 or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Florida Criminal Arraignments During COVID

Much has changed in the practice of Florida criminal defense during COVID. With varying orders being issued by the Florida Supreme Court, the Chief Judges of the Circuits, County and local municipalities, we are all dealing with the semi-shutdown as best we can. It seems that new orders, tweaking the last set, are made about every other week.

The common ground amongst the orders affecting the courthouses is that during the shutdown in-person hearings are to be rare. Many essential functions are deemed an exception to the rule and are taking place in person. A recent development from the Florida Supreme Court, was to add criminal arraignments to the list of those functions deemed essential to the system. Because arraignments are now on the list of essential proceedings, arraignments are held in person. That means the Defendant has to appear and enter the courthouse, wearing a face covering, of course.

Failing to appear at arraignment, or any other criminal court event will cause an arrest warrant to be issued for the Defendant. This is true even if the case is a misdemeanor, felony, or criminal traffic citation and the reason given is fear of COVID. While some people may be reasonably and actually scared of COVID, failing to appear is not the way to face the fear.

In Florida, but not all states or the Federal system, a person with a lawyer does not have to attend arraignment. A criminal lawyer can file paperwork to excuse the Defendant from arraignment and some, but not necessarily all, other court events. Unfortunately, unless a Public Defender was assigned at First Appearance, then a Defendant relying on the services of the Public Defender will have to physically appear at an in-person arraignment to have the Public Defender assigned. (First Appearance & Arraignment.)

A person criminally accused has rights and should use them. To hire a lawyer, please click, call or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529