Sample Plea in Absentia Form
In certain misdemeanor cases, the court might agree to accept a “Plea in Absentia.” The plea in absentia form permits the defendant to enter the plea without actually appearing in court under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 3.180(c).
This procedure is particularly important for individuals who live out of county or out of state. Additionally, while the courts are closed for in-person appearances during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the misdemeanor judges are encouraging the use of Plea in Absentia forms.
We provided this sample form for general informational purposes only. Different judges have different requirements. Always talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney about what is required for the court to consider a Plea in Absentia for any particular case.
Since the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health crisis began, many of the County Court judges in Hillsborough County, FL, have been using this form – Plea in Absentia and Waiver of Rights Form.
This article also includes examples of the forms being used for pleas in out-of-custody felony cases. In those felony cases, the courts are recently started conducting the pleas using remote audiovisual conferencing on Zoom.
In felony cases, the courts are requiring that the parties execute four forms in advance of the plea date including the Uniform Plea form, Acknowledgment and Waiver of Rights form, waiver of physical presence in court form (addendum to the plea form), and the DNA form.
The fingerprint card has a notation at the bottom that provides: “this document and its associated procedures were created and instituted in lieu of the ‘presence” requirement of current F.S. 921.241, in furtherance of COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts in the administration and resolution of criminal justice matters.”
IN THE COUNTY COURT OF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
STATE OF FLORIDA,
AFFIDAVIT OF PLEA IN ABSENTIA OF [GUILTY / NO CONTEST]
TO MISDEMEANOR CHARGE(S) PURSUANT TO FLA. R. CRIM. P. 3.180 (c)
I, the undersigned defendant, am entering A PLEA OF NOLO CONTENDERE (NO CONTEST) OR GUILTY, IN ABSENTIA, to the charges against me, and I knowledge the following:
- I am pleading ______________________ to the charges of ______________________________ and I understand the maximum penalty provided by law is:___________________________________________________________.
- I understand that I have the right to be represented by an attorney at every stage of the proceeding and, if necessary an attorney will be appointed to represent me.
- I have the right to a jury trial and the right to an attorney’s help at that trial. I have the right to compel the attendance of witnesses on my behalf, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against me, and the right not to testify or to incriminate myself.
- By pleading guilty or nolo contendere, I understand that there will be no trial of any kind, and I am waiving my right to a trial and will not be permitted to defend myself against the charges.
- I understand that by pleading guilty or nolo contendere, unless I expressly reserve the right to appeal any prior ruling of the Court, I give up the right to appeal all matters relating to the Court’s judgment, including my guilt or innocence.
- I understand that if I plead guilty or nolo contendere, the Judge may ask me questions about the charges, and if I answer these questions under oath, on the record, and in the presence of my lawyer, those answers could be used in any later prosecution for perjury.
- I admit that there is a factual basis for the charge(s) to which I am pleading, and feel my plea to be in my best interests. I understand that I have a right in the courtroom to speak to the Judge about my sentence after I have entered this plea.
- I understand that if the Court accepts my plea to the charges listed in Paragraph 1, my sentence will be: The plea will be done in my absence and through my undersigned attorney.
- No alcohol or drugs are affecting me now as I read and sign this form.
- Other than the proposed sentence set out in Paragraph 6, no one has threatened me, made any promises or guarantees to me, nor in any way forced me to enter this plea. I am doing this freely and voluntarily.
- I am represented by the undersigned attorney.
- I have discussed my case with my attorney, and any questions I have had about my case have been answered to my satisfaction. I feel my attorney has represented me to the best of their ability, and I am satisfied with this representation.
- I understand I have the right to appeal the judgment and sentence of the Court within thirty (30) days from the date of sentence.
- I understand that if I wish to take an appeal and cannot afford an attorney to help me in my appeal, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent me for that purpose.
- I understand that if I am not a United States citizen, I may be deported. I am freely entering this plea after careful and full consideration.
- Under penalty of perjury, Florida Statute 92.525, I declare I have read and fully understand this form (4 pages) and the facts that are stated in it are true.
- I understand that if the offense for which I am being sentenced is sexually violent or sexually motivated crime, or if I have a prior conviction for such an offense, this plea may subject me to involuntary civil commitment as aa sexually violent predator under the Jimmy Ryce Act.
- I understand that if I am pleading to an enhanceable offense that this plea may be used to enhance the level of a future charge as well as the severity of the penalty I receive should I reoffend with another qualifying enhanceable offense.
All of the above fingerprints are mine and were placed on this 4-page document by me on _______________________, 20___, in the presence of ____________________________, a notary public.
Print Name of Defendant
STATE OF ___________________________
COUNTY OF _________________________
The foregoing Affidavit of Plea in Absentia was sworn to or affirmed and subscribed before me this _____ day of __________________, 20___, by [name of person making statement] who [___] is personally known to me OR [__] produced [insert type of identification] as identification [check one].
Notary Public Signature
Print, Type, or Stamp Commissioned Name of Notary Public
My Commission # ____________________
My Commission Expires _______________
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF COUNSEL
I, undersigned member of the Florida Bar, hereby represent to the Court that I represent the above-named Defendant, that I reviewed and explained the ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND WAIVER OF RIGHTS to the Defendant, and to the best of my knowledge and belief the Defendant fully understands its contents.
Attorney for Defendant
Florida Bar No.:
Plea using Zoom for Felony Cases in Hillsborough County, FL
For felony cases in Hillsborough County, FL, the courts are using a standard set of forms for all in-custody and out-of-custody cases. Four forms are required in a felony case including the Uniform Plea form, Acknowledgment and Waiver of Rights form, waiver of physical presence in court form (addendum to the plea form), and the DNA form.
IN THE COURT OF THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
STATE OF FLORIDA,
DEFENDANT/ WAIVER OF PHYSICAL PRESENCE IN COURT
(Addendum to Uniform Plea, and Acknowledgment of Waiver of Rights Form)
I understand that the President of the United States has declared a National Emergency due to the global pandemic caused by the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19 Pandemic).
I also understand that the Governor of Florida has declared a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
I understand that the Florida Supreme Court has issued Administrative Order AOSC20- 12 authorizing the courts throughout the State to establish mitigating measures to prevent the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on their respective courts.
I understand AOSC20-12 includes the “use of technology, electronic documents, electronic communications, and other electronic means of conducting court business to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, to the extent consistent with law” as an acceptable mitigating measure.
I understand that the Florida Supreme Court has also issued Administrative Order AOSC20-13, suspending “all rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions applicable to court proceedings that limit or prohibit the use of communication equipment for the conducting of proceedings by remote electronic means.”
I understand that in furtherance of the Florida Supreme Court’s administrative orders, the Chief Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County has issued Administrative Order S-2020-019, identifying plea proceedings as a “mission critical” proceeding and authorizing the use of video technology to conduct negotiated pleas for incarcerated defendants.
I understand that the Florida Supreme Court has issued Administrative Order AOSC20- 23 allowing the chief judge of each circuit to determine whether certain proceedings or events can be effectively conducted remotely using telephonic or other electronic means.
I understand that the Chief Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit has issued Administrative Order S-2020-023 which allows criminal proceedings such as pleas to be conducted through audiovisual conferencing.
I understand that pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.180, I have the right to be physically present in court when a plea is made and when I am sentenced. I am choosing to waive my right to be present in-person at a plea and sentencing hearing and I am choosing to enter my guilty/no contest plea by way of video appearance, rather than wait for the court to re-open to in-person proceedings.
No one has threatened me, coerced me in any way, or promised me anything to get me to waive my right to be physically-present in the courtroom during my plea and sentencing.
I acknowledge that I have communicated directly with my attorney through videoconferencing, in a private setting, prior to the plea hearing and sentencing.
My attorney has read the Uniform Plea, Acknowledgment and Waiver of Rights form line by line, this addendum to the plea form line-by-line, and the DNA form line-by-line and has answered my questions to my satisfaction. I have authorized my attorney to sign these documents for me, on my behalf.
I acknowledge that if at any time during the plea or sentencing proceedings, I do not understand, or have a question that requires that I communicate privately with my attorney, I can choose to stop the proceedings.
ATTORNEY’S SIGNATURE, FOR DEFENDANT
ATTORNEY’S PRINTED NAME
This article was last updated on Thursday, July 30, 2020.