Today, what one would typically expect at Court has been slightly altered by COVID-19. As a result of COVID-19, each courthouse in each circuit have administrative orders that control what is occurring during this pandemic. For most Florida Judicial Circuits, this Order has canceled and postponed all criminal court and civil traffic proceedings. For most Florida Judicial Circuits, the rules governing jury trials and speedy trials have been suspended. Courthouses have also been closed with limited to no access. Judges have decided to also handle certain matters by virtual appearances. So, matters such as Pretrial Conferences are either postponed or being conducted by virtual appearances.
The Courts are conducting a daily assessment of criminal procedures and protocols according to orders being issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. During this period of time, Judges are on a rotating schedule or have individually handled matters considered essential proceedings or mission-critical. What does this mean? Essential or mission-critical proceedings have been defined by the Courts as first appearances, bond hearings, juvenile detention hearing, domestic violence injunctions, dating violence injunctions, stalking injunctions, among others. These proceedings are not civil traffic hearings, criminal arraignments or pretrial conferences. These proceedings do not include your right to a jury trial or speedy trial.
During this time, it is important to have an attorney assigned to your case. It is important to have an attorney who can keep up to date with the constant changes in court procedures and court dates, as a result of COVID-19. It is important to have an attorney who understands the criminal process and what to expect at court, and most importantly, who understands your criminal case.
If you have court costs and fines that are due and you have been affected by COVID-19 financially, you may contact the Clerk’s Office in regard to how they can be of assistance to you.
If you are facing criminal charges during this time, give us a call at (407) 500-4267 and we would be more than happy to advise how we can be of assistance to you in your criminal case during these difficult times.