Criminal Trial Lawyers from Dale Carson Law in South Florida must constantly research the applicable case law if they are to be successful in defending their clients. As a South Florida Criminal Lawyer who takes pride in learning the law, I also believe it is important to share my knowledge of the law with the public.
2 Nothing in this section shall interfere with or prevent the exercise by any court of its power to punish for contempt.
Failure to Appear is not a crime that is often filed in Broward or Palm Beach counties wherein I primarily practice criminal defense, however it can be charged and it is an important matter. Many people miss their court dates for multiple reasons. When a defendant misses his court date, the state attorney generally requests for a bond estreature and for a capias to be issued. In layman’s terms they ask for a warrant for your arrest and that any bond you previously posted be forefeited. Accordingly, when you have a felony crime and have bonded out and miss your court its possible that 1 a warrant will be issued for your arrest, 2 any money you or your family posted for a bond be taken, and 3 have a new felony crime added to your charges.
If new charges are brought for failing to appear the state will have the burden of proving that you had notice of the court date and that you willfully failed to appear. The second part is difficult for them to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Nobody can read your mind! However, be careful because hiring a bad criminal attorney could seriously hamper your ability to win. When your freedom is at risk you don’t choose a criminal defense lawyer by who quotes you the cheapest price. If your arrested, if you are charged with a crime, ask questions of your prospective lawyer. Ask him what are the required elements that the government must prove to convict you. Ask him about his experience. Go watch him in Court. Just because someone is a lawyer does not mean he/she is a good lawyer. Check them out. There are way too many bad lawyers in the world so do your research. Florida Statutes 2009. He contends there was no proof of willfulness — or any evidence that he was even aware that the hearing he failed to attend had been scheduled.
On September 21, 2009, Mr. Corrales was arrested on three drug charges, then released on bond two days later. At a hearing on April 8, 2010, he appeared through counsel, but was not present personally. At the April 8 hearing, the case was continued ore tenus to April 22, 2010. After Mr. Corrales failed to appear at the April 22 hearing, a capias issued, and he turned himself in on June 17, 2010. The next day the state amended the information to add another charge: Failure to Appear on April 22, 2010.
The jury acquitted on the drug charges but found appellant guilty of failure to appear at the April 22, 2010 hearing. At trial, the state put the capias in evidence, and Joy Mason, an employee of the Walton County Clerk of Court, testified that appellant was given oral notice of the April 22 hearing through his defense attorney on April the 8th. On cross-examination, Ms. Mason testified that she did not know why appellant missed the date or whether anyone in the clerk’s office had ever spoken to Mr. Corrales. He argued that the state had put on no evidence that his failure to appear was willful, and specifically that the jury could not infer willfulness or intent in the absence of any evidence he ever received notice. The trial court denied the motion.
Florida Statutes 2009,2 requires proof of willfulness beyond a reasonable doubt. SeeWilliams v. State, 876 So. 2d 27 Fla. While there is no standard jury instruction for offenses under section 843.15, we upheld the use of an instruction in one prosecution under section 843.15 in which the jury was told that [w]illfully means intentionally, knowingly, and purposely. Patterson v. State, 512 So. 2d 1109, 1109-10 Fla. 1st DCA 1987. The willfulness requirement assures that no one will be convicted of a crime because of a mistake or because he does something innocently, not realizing what he was doing. United States v. Hall, 346 F.2d 875, 879 2d Cir. 1965 approving trial judge’s response to jury’s question concerning meaning of willfulness.