Direct File Information
If the state attorney’s office files an information (a type of charging document) prior to the arrest of a defendant, then the case is known as a “direct file.” In direct file cases, the clerk of court will designate a sequential case number and reveal the proposed division. In Hillsborough County, FL, the direct file cases are initially assigned to Division “O.”
In some misdemeanor cases, the direct file results in a notice to appear being issued. In felony cases, the direct file information results in a warrant being issued. At least in Hillsborough County, FL, the clerk of court will transfer the case to a circuit criminal division after the defendant has been arrested and booked on that case.
This article discusses the direct file information in general and the DUI direct file information in particular.
Attorney for a Direct File Information in Tampa, FL
The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent individuals charged with DUI filed by direct information in Tampa and Plant City for Hillsborough County, in St. Petersburg and Clearwater for Pinellas County, and for New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, FL.
If you received a DUI by Direct File Information summons then contact an experienced attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the case.
We can also help you fight an administrative suspension at the DHSMV Bureau of Administrative Reviews office.
Call (813) 250-0500.
Direct File for a DUI Information
In most cases, if you are accused of DUI then the officer will arrest you immediately. But in some cases, the prosecution will not begin for several months after the incident. The delay in prosecution occurs in DUI cases filed by “Direct Information” by the State Attorney’s Office in Florida.
The direct information is used by the State Attorney’s Office in a variety of misdemeanor and felony offenses.
In a DUI case, after the Direct Information is filed with the clerk’s office, the prosecutor will issue a summons requiring the Defendant to appear in court. The prosecutor will also file a “criminal report affidavit” and “notice of hearing” and notice of arraignment.
You will know that the prosecutor is considering a direct information when you are issued a DUI citation by the arresting officer that says “Direct File” on it instead of a court date.
You might also learn about the direct file DUI case when you receive an Order of License Suspension from the DHSMV Bureau of Administrative Reviews office from David Laliberte, Supervisor, Hearing Officer.
If you do not appear in court, then the court will issue an arrest warrant after the failure to appear. Any summons in a direct file information case is serious.
Types of DUI Filed Directly by the State Attorney’s Office
We represent clients charged with different types of misdemeanor DUI crimes involving a direct information including:
- DUI with a breath or blood alcohol concentration of .15 or over; and
- DUI with property damage or Non-Serious Personal Injury.
DUI cases can involve accusations of alcohol or drug impairment.
In cases involving allegations of drug impairment, the most common accusations are for marijuana (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or 11-Nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol measured in ng/mL.
The Most Common Scenario for DUI Filed by Direct Information
The most common question we get about DUI cases filed by direct information involve this type of scenario:
I was involved in a traffic accident. I was injured and taken to the hospital. While I was in the emergency room waiting to see a doctor, a DUI officer came to my hospital room and had the nurse take my blood.
Four months later I received a Direct File Summons in the mail from the clerk of the court requiring me to answer charges under Florida Statute 316.193(3) for DUI PROPERTY DAMAGE / PERSONAL INJURY.
Can the DUI case be prosecuted after a four-month delay?
Although most cases begin with an arrest, the summons in a direct information case (often called the “direct file” case) may come months after the incident.
The prosecutors typically avoid issuing a summons to appear in court because doing so starts the clock on the 90 day speedy trial provision under Florida law.
If you also received an “Order of License Suspension” from the DHSMV Bureau of Administrative Reviews office, then that order might have triggered your right to a speedy trial, especially when this occurs prior to the DUI citation being sent to the clerk’s office.
A direct file DUI commonly occurs after a crash investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department or the Florida Highway Patrol.
The DUI Case Involving a Blood Draw at the Hospital
In certain cases, the investigating officer may not have sufficient evidence to make an arrest on the day of the incident. This is often true in DUI cases involving a crash with either property damage or non-serious personal injury to another. In many of those cases the driver is taken to the hospital.
The DUI officer will then go to the hospital to question the driver and ask for consent to take blood if the officer determines that it is impractical to ask for a breath test. If the driver gives voluntary consent then the nurse will draw the blood using the officer’s test kit.
The hospital’s lab then test the serum portions of the blood and makes a notation in the medical record of the BAC level.
Because the whole blood was never tested, that number in the medical record is NOT sufficient to uphold an administrative suspension (although sometimes the DHSMV ignores this fact because most driver’s don’t make the right objection at the formal review hearing).
The prosecutor might also send you notice that it intends to obtain your medical records for the DUI investigation by sending you a HIPAA 15 day letter for Blood Alcohol Content, a Notice of Issuance of an Investigative Subpoena for Medical Records, or a motion to compel your medical records.
In these cases, you should always hire an attorney to contest the need for your medical records being released to the prosecutor during a Hunter Hearing. See Hunter v. State, 639 So.2d 72, 74 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994).
Certificate of Blood Withdraw
The officer will ask the nurse to sign a Certification of Blood Withdrawal that certifies that the person who took the blood is qualified to do so.
Medical professionals who are qualified to take blood for the blood test include a physician, certified paramedic, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or other person authorized by a hospital to draw blood, or as a licensed clinical laboratory directory, supervisor, technologist or technician.
The form says that the person drew blood at the request of a law enforcement officers. The form says that the blood samples were collected and labeled in accordance with the provisions of Rule 11d-8.012, Florida Administrative Code.”
Turning the Blood Over to the FDLE Crime Lab
The officer is trained not to make an arrest since the person is in the hospital. Instead, the officer will submit the blood sample to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Regional Crime Lab. The officer will also turn over all of his police reports to the State Attorney’s Office while the blood test results are pending.
If the State Attorney takes no action then the case is eventually closed. On the other hand, if the blood test results come back with either drugs or a blood alcohol reading of over .08 then the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office may decide to prosecute the case by issuing a summons.
Summons when DUI Charges are Filed by Direct Information
The summons might read as follows:
In the County Court in Hillsborough County, State of Florida
To all singular the Sheriffs of the State of Florida:
You are to serve this summons on the above named defendant who has been charged with Florida Statute Section 316.193(3) for DUI with Property Damage or Non-serious Bodily Injury (often called non-serious personal injury) by DIRECT INFORMATION filed by the State Attorney in and for Hillsborough County, State of Florida.
The direct file summons will using contain certain instructions to the Defendant such as:
YOU ARE HEREBY REQUIRED to appear personally before the Honorable [name of judge] of the said court to answer said charge on the [date and time] at North Annex, 401 N. Jefferson St. – Enter through Courthouse on 800 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, FL.
Bring this summons with you to court.
If you fail to appear an Arrest Warrant may by issued by Court order.
The summons is signed by the Clerk’s Office in Hillsborough County, Florida. The bottom of the summons contains a service of summons certificate which reads:
Received the above summons this ____ day of ________ 2013.
SERVED the same on the ___ day of ________ 2013 at __.m. in Hillsborough County, FL.
If you were charged with DUI through a “direct file” information then contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at the Sammis Law Firm.
Our DUI defense attorneys can represent you on both the criminal charges in court and the formal review hearing to contest the administrative suspension at the DHSMV Bureau of Administrative Reviews office in Tampa, FL.
Call us at (813) 250-0500 to discuss the particular facts of your case and defenses that might apply.
This article was last updated on Friday, September 18, 2020.