Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

Traffic tickets issued later or not received at all.

What happens to a traffic ticket if the officer did not serve the individual at the road? This is a common question in the traffic ticket defense practice. When an officer does not serve the driver with the infraction on or at the roadside, typically that means that the infraction involves a crash. An accused driver being transported to the hospital may delay the actual receipt of notice by hours or weeks. Most traffic crashes resulting in fatalities are not served at the scene but, many months later. Blood drawn at a crash means an investigation into DUI and a lawyer should be consulted immediately. Although it may come as a surprise to some, the Constitution applies to traffic tickets. Notions of Due Process, the evidence code and the right to a speedy trial all apply to traffic ticket cases like other criminal and civil cases. However, there are tremendous differences between the criminal and traffic rules or procedure. Due Process is basically the right to have notice and opportunity to be heard. Notice happens when the officer provides the citation to the accused driver. The citation is the only charging document in a traffic ticket case and can be the only charging document in a criminal case.

Failure to serve the citation is therefore a violation of the Constitutional right to Due Process. A ticket that is never served is subject to the Statute of Limitations. In a noncriminal violation, a prosecution must be commenced within 1 year after it is committed. A prosecution on a charge on which the defendant has not previously been arrested or served with a summons is commenced when a charging document is filed, provided the Summons or Information or other charging document is served to the person without unreasonable delay.

The government still has to serve the ticket without unnecessary delay. If they do not, then the case is dismissed. There is no cure for the government; it is a hard line. The reasonableness of the delay depends on the facts over the next year but, things to consider are a Defendant’s absence from the State, homestead declarations, licensing of any type or, in the old days searching the phone book, today that would be an internet or social media search.

A ticket filed but not served and therefore not addressed by the driver, will result in a suspended license for failing to address the citation. Usually, a client finds out when the driver’s license is suspended for failing to act, sometimes the Court will have issued points and suspended the license. When this happens, the Court may still allow for a hearing and we will file a sworn Motion claiming improper or lack of service. Many times, the suspension can be lifted pending the hearing.

In a civil traffic ticket, the accused does NOT have the right to have a lawyer appointed; however, a person always has the right to hire their own lawyer. For assistance responding to a traffic summons or suspension please call, text, or click to fill out the form online.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

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