Do I Always Need to Attend My Court Hearings?

Do I Always Need to Attend My Court Hearings?
Judge read verdict on white background

Do I need to show up to all my court hearings?

The simple answer is NO, your attendance is not required at all court hearings. Many factors weigh into attendance at court hearings, and it depends on the type of hearing and whether your attorney has taken the necessary steps to exercise your rights.

What is a notice of hearing in Florida? Do I need to attend if I receive one?

You may be asking this question because you recently received a notice of hearing. This is a legal document sent to all relevant parties involved in a case that details the date, time, and location of a scheduled court proceeding. 

Whether or not you need to attend can depend on the type of hearing and your role in the legal proceedings—that’s why it’s essential to review the notice carefully and consult with your attorney to determine whether your presence is necessary.

Arraignment Hearings

If you are scheduled for an Arraignment, it is not necessary for you to attend court if, and only if, your attorney has filed a written plea on your behalf. At Mike G Law, Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Celso Gonzalez will file a Written Plea of Not Guilty on your behalf within minutes of being hired. This guarantees that you do not have to attend your Arraignment Hearing.

Additionally, Mike G Law will have you sign a Waiver of Appearance at Pretrial so that you do not need to miss time at work or school or otherwise interrupt your life to show up in court when it is not necessary. At Mike G Law, we do everything in our power to minimize the impact of an arrest and criminal charge on your life. Sometimes we can handle a case where the client never even has to step into the courthouse. At Mike G Law, we don’t just know the law; we enforce it to the full extent possible to protect our clients.

Legal Basis for Waiving Appearance

Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.180 and 3.220(p)(1) specifically authorize an attorney to waive your appearance in court.

Rule 3.180

Rule 3.180 defines the presence of a defendant for courtroom proceedings and states that a defendant is present if they are physically in attendance and have a meaningful opportunity to be heard through counsel on the issues being discussed.

Rule 3.220(o)(1)

Rule 3.220(o)(1) concerns Pretrial Conferences and allows the trial court to hold one or more pretrial conferences with trial counsel present. The defendant shall be present unless the defendant waives this in writing.

Who is allowed to attend court hearings?

In Florida, family members are generally permitted to attend court hearings as part of the public audience. However, there may be exceptions based on the judge’s discretion or the nature of the case. It’s recommended to confirm with the court or consult with your attorney for any specific guidance regarding attendance.

Protecting Your Rights

Some judges and prosecutors may not be aware of or may disregard the law that guarantees defendants the right to waive their appearance and may attempt to require the defendant’s presence in court as an intimidation tactic. Judges and prosecutors may sometimes want to feel in control and try to circumvent the important rights that defendants have to be treated fairly. Mike G Law pledges to protect your rights aggressively and without fear—contact me today for a free consultation. 

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