Tourist Criminal Defense in the Florida Keys
The most common question our out of town clients have after an arrest is, “Will I have to personally appear at my upcoming Court date?” Luckily, the answer to that question is NO.
After a client bonds out of jail, he or she is given a Court date a few weeks out. (Bond Information Monroe County Jail). It is during this period between release from jail and the next Court date that we generally meet with clients for the first time (either in person or via telephone conference if a person has already returned home). This upcoming Court date is called an arraignment, and is an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges.
This Court date being set several weeks out is problematic for our out of town clients as nearly all must get back to their homes and jobs. As such, on behalf of our clients, we enter documents notifying the Court of our representation of a client. Additionally, these documents alert the Court that our client pleas not guilty to the charges, and that we are waiving our client’s appearance at the initial arraignment date. Pursuant to these filings, our out of town clients do not need to appear at the arraignment Court date.
The next Court date after the arraignment is a Pre-Trial Conference, commonly called a Docket Sounding. This is essentially a status conference where Counsel informs the Court as to the status of the Court case and whether the case needs to be continued, set for plea, or set for trial. In order to ensure that our out of town clients do not have to travel back to this Court date, we have our clients execute written waivers of appearance, which serve to waive personal appearance at these docket sounding dates. Waiving personal appearance at these Court dates is permitted pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure § 3.180(a)(3). Pursuant to these waivers of appearance, our out of town clients do not need to appear at the subsequent Pre-Trial Conference Court dates.
If our out of town clients happen to be charged with a misdemeanor, or if they are eligible to enroll in a diversionary program, it may be possible to resolve their cases without them ever having to come back to Key West. In these cases, the terms of resolution (fines, community service, etc.) are permitted to be carried out in their hometown/home state.
Our clients may have to come back to come Key West in several instances. One would be if we go to trial in a client’s case. Another scenario would be if we have a motion in which our client’s testimony is required, in which case the testimony would have to be in person. Another instance in which personal appearance would be required is in the event that a client is entering a plea to a felony charge. Note that even after a plea to a charge, the attorneys at Robertson & Hunter, LLP, can arrange for any probation to be transferred to our clients hometown/home state.
Other than in the few scenarios mentioned above, the attorneys at Robertson & Hunter, LLP, are able to appear on behalf of our out of town clients, such that they do not have to incur the time and expense in coming back to Key West for multiple Court dates.