Tourist Crimes

If you live outside of Florida or the county in which you were arrested, defending yourself against the charges becomes more complicated. Traveling back to Florida for various court dates in a felony or misdemeanor case can be expensive. These court dates can take you away from your responsibilities at home and work.

Your attorney may be able to waive your appearance at all pre-trial court dates and hearings. You might not have to go to court at all if your charges are dropped or if your attorney helps you enter a plea in absentia.

At the Sammis Law Firm, we work hard to help our out-of-state clients avoid unnecessary court appearances while still fighting for the best result.

Attorney for Tourist Crimes in Tampa, FL

Aggressively litigating pre-trial motions to suppress and dismiss are especially important for out-of-town clients. By winning a motion, you might minimize the number of trips to court.

If you were arrested in the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, or Polk County, but live out of the State of Florida, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss ways to handle your criminal defense effectively.

We also represent clients after their cash is seized at the airport in a forfeiture action or if they receive a TSA Notice of Violation NOV letter with a demand for a civil penalty.

Call (813) 250-0500.

Diversion Programs for Clients Living Out of State

If this is your first offense, discuss with your attorney the possibility of entering a diversion program without ever returning to the State of Florida. Successful completion of these diversion programs requires the prosecutor to drop all of the charges against you after you successfully complete the program.

Once the charges are dropped, you may be eligible to expunge your criminal record. Diversion programs are not right for everyone. When the charges can be proven beyond all reasonable doubt at trial or can be dismissed before trial, it is better to fight the case on the merits.

Certain professionals should be careful to discuss the implications of entering a diversion program with an attorney, especially college and graduate school students, lawyers, law enforcement officers, members of the military, teachers, and healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses.

Fighting your Criminal Case in Tampa, FL

Many people are arrested in the Tampa Bay area while visiting friends or family, traveling for business, attending a sporting event, or taking a vacation. Those cases require special attention because of the inconvenience and expense of traveling back to the Tampa Bay area to fight the charges.

Contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney for a free evaluation of your case over the phone or in our office. If you live out of state or out of the county, we may be able to aggressively defend you against the charges while still being able to handle your case without your presence.

Charges commonly involving a tourist or visitor in the Tampa Bay Area include:

Arrested at Tampa International Airport?

The number of arrests at Tampa International Airport has risen dramatically since September 11, 2001. New rules issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now expand the official list of prohibited items that will result in criminal or civil prosecution if those banned items are brought to the airport, screening checkpoint, or aboard an airplane.

Prosecutions can occur even if those items were possessed accidentally. Passengers arrive at the airport with baggage that unknowingly contains some contraband. Even items not specifically listed in the TSA rules are illegal if considered dangerous.

Other changes since September 11, 2001, include a more aggressive stance on arresting and prosecuting individuals. The charges prosecuted can include disorderly conduct, public intoxication, trespass, or resisting arrest with or without violence.

Some of these cases involve allegations of “making terrorist threats” for simple disputes concerning loss of luggage, long delays, canceled flights, and other similar frustrations common with airport travel.

If you have been arrested while visiting the Tampa Bay area, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can talk with you about what led up to the arrest, ways to fight your case aggressively, and the likelihood that your case could be handled without your presence if you live out of the area.

Arrested at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino?

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe, Hotel and Casino, contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

Under the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s sovereign immunity provisions, the Hard Rock Cafe might refuse to release information that can normally be subpoenaed. Extra care must be taken in these cases to obtain the documents and evidence needed to fight the charges, including video evidence.

Read more about cases involving an arrest by a police officer with the Seminole Police Department at the Tampa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Arrested at the Raymond James Stadium?

The Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) reports the number of people arrested or ejected by law enforcement officers at each Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. At some games, dozens of fans are ejected or arrested.

Several different factors figure into these arrest and ejection rates. The biggest factor is drinking by young people who overindulge before and during the game. In fact, for most of these incidents in which a fan is arrested or ejected, the event is alcohol-related.

Problems are the game often involves fights, the use of profanities causing a disturbance, or smuggling of alcohol or other contraband into the stadium (even though alcohol can be purchased at the stadium).

At some events, the TSA enlists multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Tampa Police Department, the Florida Highway Patrol, the University Police (UP), and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. At many games, an undisclosed number of undercover officers patrol the stadium and its parking lots while looking for underage drinking. Many of the underage drinking investigations involve agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Beverage, and Tobacco.

The most serious charges involve an arrest for felony charges involving battery on a law enforcement officer or resisting, obstructing, or opposing an officer. Read more about cases involving an arrest by an officer at the Raymond James Stadium or during a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.

Arrests at Other Tourist Locations 

Special considerations apply when an arrest is made at a popular tourist location, including the following locations.

  • Tampa- Seminole Hard Rock Cafe, Hotel and Casino,
  • University of South Florida;
  • University of Tampa;
  • Raymond James Stadium;
  • Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center;
  • Tampa Museum of Art;
  • St. Pete Times Forum;
  • Lowry Park Zoo;
  • Seminole Cultural Center;
  • Tampa Bay – Busch Gardens;
  • Tampa Bay- Adventure Island;
  • Tampa Bay History Center; or
  • Tampa Theatre.

Plea in Absentia for Florida Cases

If favorable plea negotiations occur and the prosecutor is willing to reduce the charges against you, you may be able to enter a “plea in absentia” to a misdemeanor offense.

A “plea in absentia” means that your attorney can enter the plea on your behalf after you sign a “plea form.”

The plea in absentia is particularly beneficial if the prosecutor is reducing the charges, allowing you a withhold of adjudication to avoid a conviction, and not requiring any probation. Different judges have different requirements for the plea in absentia form.

Transferring Probation Out of State

The first goal in any criminal case is getting the charges dropped or dismissed. This is particularly important if you live out of the state because getting probation transferred out of Florida to your home state can create a bureaucratic nightmare, particularly in felony probation cases supervised by the Department of Corrections.

The Florida Department of Corrections has estimated that as of December 1, 2014, 7,066 other state offenders were being supervised in the State of Florida, and 5,915 Florida offenders were being supervised out of state.

Additional Resources

Interstate Compact for Transferring Probation Out of State From Florida – Visit the website for the Florida Department of Corrections, Julie L. Jones, Secretary, to learn more about the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS) (often called the “Interstate Compact”).  The ICAOS applies to the transfer of offenders between the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The interstate compact applies to adult offender supervision when supervised offenders or probationers can move across state boundaries into or out of the State of Florida. Find the definition of resident and resident family, eligibility to transfer probation under the Interstate Compact, whether misdemeanors are eligible for transfer, and the registration requirements for felons and sex offenders in Florida.


Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss ways to aggressively fight the charges against you while you minimize the stress and aggravation of traveling back to the Tampa Bay area for court appearances.

If you need information about extradition on a felony fugitive warrant to Florida, including Tampa, Hillsborough County, or a surrounding area throughout Florida, visit our information center on Extradition to Florida on a Fugitive Warrant.

If you were arrested in the Tampa Bay area but live out of the county or state, contact us today for more information about your criminal defense. Call (813) 250-0500.

This article was last updated on Friday, February 2, 2024.