Arraignment in Pasco County, FL

What happens at the arraignment in Pasco County, FL? Within approximately thirty (30) days after an arrest in Pasco County, FL, an arraignment hearing is scheduled at the courthouse in New Port Richey or Dade City, FL.

The procedures have changed slightly as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pubic health crisis. The courts are often requiring the person accused and their attorney to appear remotely by phone or video conferencing technologies like Zoom.

At the arraignment, the court advises the defendant of the charges that have been formally filed. If the defendant does not have a privately retained criminal defense attorney at this stage, then the judge might appoint a criminal defense attorney with the public defender’s office.

If the defendant has a private attorney, then the private attorney can appear on their behalf at the arraignment. The privately retained attorney will often file initial pleadings to preserve your rights, waive the arraignment, and excuse you from appearing.

Some types of motions, such as those attacking the legal sufficiency of the charging document must be filed to arraignment or the issue is waived. For this reason, if you plan to hire a private attorney, you should do so prior to the arraignment so that all paths for contesting the charges remain open.

The State Attorney in the Sixth Judicial Circuit for Pasco County, FL, will notify any alleged victims by mail of the arraignment date. The alleged victim has the right to be present, but is not required to appear unless a subpoena has been served on them.

Since the defendant has the option to enter a plea and be sentenced by the court at this time, the alleged victim is often given the opportunity to speak with the prosecutor to relay their feelings about the way the case should be resolved.

When represented by a private attorney, it is rare for a defendant to enter a plea at arraignment. Instead, the private criminal defense attorney will request that a next court date or pre-trial date is set.

Attorney for Arraignment in Pasco County, FL

If you were arrested for either a felony or misdemeanor offense in Pasco County, then hire a private criminal defense attorney to represent you.

An attorney can contact the prosecutor during the earliest stages of the case, even before arraignment, to explain all of the reasons that the charges should be dropped or dismissed. Your attorney can also file pretrial motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the charges.

If you have questions about an arraignment for felony or misdemeanor charges in Pasco County, FL, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

Call 813-250-0500 today.

What Happens at Arraignment in Pasco County, FL?

I have a client who received an arraignment notice. The form was last revised on 5/25/2020. Although your notice might be different, this notice provided:

Notice and Instructions – If you have been noticed to appear in court for an Arraignment or Pre-trial Conference hearing you must read the information below prior to your court hearing.

Arraignment Hearing – Pursuant to the recent Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your attendance is not required and you must not report to the courthouse on the date and time indicated in the Notice of Arraignment. You will not be allowed entry into the courthouse.

If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney can file a Notice of Appearance on your behalf. Your case will be reset for a pretrial conference to be held at a later date. You should check with your attorney for additional information regarding your case.

If you do not have an attorney, the judge will enter a plea of not guilty and your case will be set for a pre-trial conference at a later date/time.

If you want a lawyer and wish to have a lawyer appointed YOU MUST CALL the judge’s office at the applicable number listed below three (3) days prior to your arraignment hearing.

  • Judge Publick: 727-847-8173
  • Judge Roberts: 727-815-7025
  • Judge Sestak: 352-518-4013
  • Judge Wansboro: 727-815-7028

Pre-Trial Conference Hearing in Section 15, 16, 17 in West Pasco

The court will begin conducting pre-trial conferences remotely until normal scheduling can resume. A maximum of fifteen (15) defendants will be scheduled in a 45 minute time block.

Attorneys and defendants are not to come inside the courtroom without leave of court. Attorneys shall call the hearing line and assigned section judge (see below) on the date and time of the pre-trial conference.

The court will proceed alphabetically by the attorneys’ last names. If the line is busy, the attorney should continue calling back until he or she gets through.

We will transition to ZOOM as soon as possible. If you receive a ZOOM invitation for a hearing, use ZOOM instead of the hearing line. All ZOOM participants must follow the protocols for attending a video hearing in the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Section 10 and 14 in East Pasco (Judge William G. Sestak)

The court shall contact you telephonically on the date and time of the pre-trial hearing. You must contact the judge’s office at 352-538-4013 three (3) days prior to your pre-trial hearing to provide the number for the court to call. Please be available for the call and please be patient.

Fifteen (15) cases will be scheduled in a 45-minute time block. Calendars will be arranged alphabetically by the defendant’s last name and the court will contact you in the same order as the calendar.

This article was last updated on Friday, January 22, 2021.