TAMPA DEFENSE LAWYER REPRESENTING OUT-OF-STATE DEFENDANTS
Being charged with a crime – to put it mildly – is a challenge, but if you live in one state and you are charged with a crime in another state, dealing with your circumstances will be even more challenging.
Whatever the charge, an arrest for a crime in a state where you don’t live is a stressful experience, and it’s complicated by additional worries about taking time off – and spending money – to return for a court appearance.
Florida, as everyone knows, is one of the world’s top tourist and business destinations. Millions visit our state every year. Some get arrested. If you live in another state and you are charged with a crime in Florida, keep reading. There are some things you will need to know.
WHAT DO OUT-OF-STATE DEFENDANTS NEED TO KNOW?
The first thing to know after being charged with a crime in Florida is that you can’t just leave the state, go home, and pretend that the incident never happened. If the charge against you is for a serious felony, Florida will seek to extradite and return you for prosecution.
If the charge is for a lesser crime, you still have to resolve it, and your life may be difficult until you do.
IF YOU’VE BEEN CHARGED WITH A TRAFFIC VIOLATION
For a traffic violation, authorities in your home state will learn about the violation through the Driver License Compact (DLC). The DLC reciprocal agreement, signed by 45 states, requires those states to share information on convictions for moving violations.
A traffic ticket in Florida, in other words, could be counted against your driving privilege in 44 other states. For some drivers, that will mean a license suspension or a license revocation. If you fail to pay a traffic fine in Florida, your home state may suspend your license on Florida’s behalf.
IF YOU’VE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIMINAL MISDEMEANOR
Florida usually doesn’t extradite for misdemeanors, but if an arrest warrant has been issued, an arrest can be made – anywhere – on the basis of that warrant. If you’re stopped for speeding in Ohio, and you have a misdemeanor arrest warrant in Florida, you could be arrested on the spot.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in this state, a Tampa criminal defense attorney may be able to resolve the case for you with no need for you to return to Florida. You can stay in touch with your attorney using the phone and the internet.
For misdemeanors, Florida may not seek extradition, but until the charge is dealt with, the person who is charged will not be able to obtain a passport or a weapons permit. More serious criminal charges, as you would expect, entail more serious consequences.
IF YOU’VE BEEN CHARGED WITH A FELONY
In felony cases, out-of-state defendants will probably have to make court appearances. If you are charged with a felony in Florida, most courts will require out-of-state defendants to post bail. Bail is what a defendant pays to the court to ensure that the defendant returns to face charges.
If a defendant posts bail and flees the state, the court will keep the money and the judge may issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. If the defendant posts cash bail, he will get the money back as long as he appears in court. However, many defendants use a bondsman instead of posting cash bail. If you choose this option, the bondsman will post cash bail, and you will pay the bondsman a fee for doing so. If you appear in court as required, the bail money will be refunded to the bondsman since he is the one who posted the cash bail. You will not receive a refund for the fee charged by the bondsman.
If you leave Florida while you’re out on bail for a felony charge, or if you leave upon learning that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you’re a fugitive. If you’re arrested, you will probably be extradited. Florida usually tries to extradite fugitives who are charged with felonies.
An alleged fugitive has a right to fight the extradition process, but when a fugitive is returned to Florida, he or she will face both the original charge along with penalties for fleeing the state to avoid arrest.
HOW DO DEFENSE LAWYERS HELP THEIR OUT-OF-STATE CLIENTS?
Of course, most out-of-state residents who are charged with a crime in Florida don’t become fugitives. They deal with the charge as best they can, but inevitably, they find that they will need help from a defense attorney who’s based in the Florida jurisdiction where the charge was filed.
When an out-of-state defendant is required to appear in a Florida criminal court, your attorney in Florida will probably be able to schedule a date that isn’t too inconvenient – with enough advance notice to make any necessary arrangements.
Your Florida attorney should have extensive experience representing out-of-state defendants and an understanding of their needs and concerns. Your attorney will attempt to have the charge against you dismissed, but if that’s not possible, your attorney will defend you in a court trial.
Tampa criminal defense attorney Patrick B. Courtney has over 24 years of legal experience. He represents clients charged with crimes in Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.
Pat Courtney provides aggressive and effective defense representation to out-of-state defendants. If you face a criminal charge in Florida, but you live in another state, learn more by calling (813) 967-2000 or by using the online contact form on this website.