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

Criminal Assault, the Threatened Use of Force and Warning Shots

In the realm of criminal cases one way a defense attorney can protect a client is to argue self-defense. Some years ago, there were reports of a ‘Warning Shot Bill’ that would allow Floridians to fire a warning shot. There is no law that specifically ‘allows a warning shot’. What in the stand your ground law caused the confusion that has me answering similar questions years later?

Initially, the stand your ground law in Florida was silent as to whether a threat to use force was included. That meant that people, who chose to make a threat to use force and would have been immune from criminal prosecution had they actually used force, were instead being sent to prison. The law did not allow for immunity from prosecution for threats, just the use of force. For example, a person who killed an aggressor could be immune from a murder prosecution but in the same situation, having the restraint to not kill would send that same person to prison.

Thankfully, that omission was filled in 2014. The Legislature found that “persons have been criminally prosecuted … and have been sentenced to mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for threatening to use force in a manner and under circumstances that would have been justifiable under chapter 776, Florida Statutes, had force actually been used.” Therefore, the legislature, added the words “or threatening to use” and “or threatened use” to the provisions of law related to the justifiable use of force. They did not add the words “warning shot(s)”. In my opinion, the law will NEVER say that a person can fire a warning shot, but one day it may say that a person cannot.

The law in threatening or using deadly force is generally that a person is justified only if they reasonably believe that such conduct is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. “Forcible felony” is defined as “treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.”

Whether a warning shot is justified is for the judge or jury to decide. Every case is different, and no lawyer can guarantee what a trial judge or jury will eventually decide. Criminal and civil cases involving the use or threatened use of deadly force require significant attention. To hire a lawyer, please click, call, text (352) 371-9141 or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529