In Florida, different courts and counties have different rules about whether criminal defendants must show up to court at every court date. In any criminal case a good majority of court dates will be simply “check-in” dates for the judge to find out how the case is progressing, and to give the prosecutor and defense attorney a chance to discuss the case. Most of the time the defendant’s presence isn’t really necessary, and the defense attorney simply asks the court for a new court date so they can have time to review evidence and speak with witnesses.
In some counties judges allow private attorneys to waive their client’s appearance. This means that the defendant will not have to show up to court for check-in dates. In other counties judges require defendants to be present in person for every court date, no matter how meaningless it really is.
The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure allow a criminal defendant to sign a written waiver of appearance, and excuse the the defendant from being present at any pre-trial conference as long as his or her appearance is waived in writing. This should apply to all criminal courts, however many counties across the state have their own rules about requiring criminal defendants to appear at every court date.
Failing to attend a court date will almost always result in the judge revoking the defendant’s bond and issuing a capias warrant for their arrest. This can have severe consequences, such as a second arrest and staying in jail without bond until the case resolves.
If you are facing a criminal charge and aren’t sure when your next court date will be, I built this site to help in finding upcoming court dates in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Choose the county of your case, put in your full name or case number, and the site will look up your next court date. If you have an attorney please contact them to find out if your presence in court is required. As we build out and improve the site we will offer more features.
If you have an open criminal case it is essential to make sure you stay on top of all court dates. Missing a court date can have dire consequences, so please make sure you know whether or not you have to be in court for all appearances.