A felony is, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, “A crime of a graver or more serious nature than those designated as misdemeanors; e.g. aggravated assault (felony) as contrasted with simple assault (misdemeanor). Under federal law and many state statutes, any offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year…”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
May I attend a criminal trial?
All sessions of court are open to the public unless a judge has ordered a court proceeding to be closed. Spectators are expected to dress and conduct themselves properly when attending any court session.
What is an arraignment?
A court procedure whereby the accused is brought before the court to plead to a charge in a charging document. (“Information”, “Indictment”, “Citation”, etc.). The charge and rights are read to the defendant. The defendant is then asked if he/she opts to plead “guilty”, “not guilty” or “nolo contendere” (no contest).
In most instances, a case is continued from the arraignment court event to a separate court event type, for a later date. If the case is continued, the defendant is notified at the arraignment of his/her next court event including date, time and courtroom.
I would like an attorney but can’t afford one. What can I do?
Florida Statute 27.51(1) states, “The public defender shall represent, without additional compensation, any person determined by the court to be indigent as provided in s.27.52”. If you have been arrested and charged with a felony offense and cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for the service of a public defender. Your request for a public defender may be made by you during your first court appearance. Please contact the Office of the Public Defender (850)638-6650 for additional information.
I am a witness in a case. How can I obtain information concerning the case?
As a witness in a case, all questions concerning that respective case should be directed to the attorney who subpoenaed you as a witness.
How can I change my court date?
The Clerk’s Office does not have the authority to change a court date. If you are represented by an attorney, including the public defender, please contact them with your request. If you are not represented by an attorney, you may put your request in writing, addressed to the judge. Include your full name, mailing address, and case number. File the original written request with this office.
What happens if I fail to appear for my court date?
Failure to appear may result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest. This may cause you to forfeit the bail posted, thus losing your money or collateral. If the offense you failed to appear for includes a traffic offense, the judge will also suspend your driving privileges. Upon arrest, you may be held in jail with or without bond.
What must I do if the judge ordered my driving privileges suspended?
Once you have been released from the arrest on the warrant, bring all of your paperwork to this office. You will be required to pay a delinquency fee and will be issued a D6 clearance form to have your driving privileges reinstated. The clearance form must be presented to any office of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. There you may be charged a reinstatement fee to have your driving privileges reinstated.
Who should I notify if my address changes?
It is your responsibility to notify the Clerk’s Office of your current address, in writing, at Washington County Clerk of Court, Attn: Criminal Division, Post Office Box 647, Chipley, FL 32428. Please include your case number on the correspondence.
I missed my court date, how can I take care of the bench warrant?
You will be required to turn yourself in at the Washington County Jail. If you live outside of Washington County, you may turn yourself in to the closest law enforcement agency. Upon your arrest you will be required to post bail as required by the judge. You will be assigned a new court date, which will be approximately 3 weeks later.
Where is the Washington County Jail located?
The address for the Washington County Jail is 1100 Brickyard Road, Chipley, Florida.
What is my court date?
What is the sentence (disposition) of a case?
Which judge is assigned to my case?
The answers to the above listed questions may be answered by calling our office at 850-638-6289.
How do I file an appeal?
Please contact your attorney concerning the proper procedures for filing an appeal. If you wish to research the information yourself, you may consult the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, which are found in the Florida Rules of Court.
How can I have my case sealed or expunged?
Florida Statute 943.0585 and/or 943.059 will provide the requirements and conditions for having a criminal court case sealed and/or expunged from your record. Please read these statutes carefully.
If you need an application or have questions regarding your eligibility to have your records sealed or expunged, please contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at www.fdle.state.fl.us/expunge. FDLE will require that you complete an application for the procedure and submit the forms to their office. The forms are only available on the FDLE website. Upon receipt of your application, FDLE will notify you of your eligibility. Fees for this procedure will include payment to FDLE and a service charge plus charges for certified copy paid to the clerk.
How do I apply for Clemency?
You may call or write:
Office of Executive Clemency
2601 Blairstone Rd.
Bldg. C, Room 229
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2450
Phone: (850) 488-2952
- Criminal Indigence Form (to request to have a public defender appointed to your case)