Criminal

Overview

The Circuit Court has jurisdiction over all defendants accused of committing crimes that have been designated by the State Legislature as felonies. A felony is a criminal offense punishable by death or imprisonment in a state penitentiary.

The Circuit Court also has jurisdiction over all cases in which a child is alleged to have committed a delinquent act or violation of law. A law enforcement officer files a delinquent complaint when a juvenile is alleged to have committed a felony, misdemeanor, contempt of court or violation of a local ordinance.

The County Court has jurisdiction over all defendants accused of committing crimes which have been designated as misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense, which is punishable by imprisonment in a county correctional facility.

The County Court also has jurisdiction over criminal traffic cases. Criminal Traffic Laws which are defined by the Florida Rules of Court as a violation that may subject a defendant upon conviction to incarceration.

Procedural Overview


First Appearance
If you are unable to bond out of jail, within 24 hours, you will appear before a county judge for a first appearance hearing. During these hearings the judge will set bond on misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases and determine if you qualify for legal representation by the Public Defender's Office. The judge may accept a plea on a local misdemeanor or criminal traffic violation. If you are arrested on a felony case the court will only address bond and attorney status and your case will be scheduled for an arraignment before a circuit court judge.

If you are arrested over the weekend your first appearance hearing will be held at the Sumter County Jail before a judge. The judge will address bond and attorney status with you. Your case will be scheduled for an arraignment before a county judge on misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases and before a circuit judge for felony cases.

Arraignments
An arraignment is a hearing where a defendant is advised of the charges filed against him/her and allowed to enter a plea. If you enter a plea of guilty or no contest you will be sentenced at that time. If you plea not guilty your case will be set for a Status Conference, Pre-Trial, Change of Plea Session and Jury Trial. If you plea not guilty to a violation of probation charge then your case will be set for a Violation of Probation Hearing.

Arraignment Court Dates
The Clerk's Office cannot change a court date. If there is a problem with your date, you may want to consult an attorney or contact the Judge assigned to your case.

Sentencing
The court may sentence you to serve time in the Sumter County Jail and is required to impose court costs and may assess a fine on each count as charged. The Court has the authority to suspend your driving privileges on traffic violations and some misdemeanors. All fine and court costs are payable to the Clerk of Court by cash, cashier's check, money order or Credit Card. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and Check Cards with the appropriate insignia. Credit Card payments will not be accepted over the phone. Personal checks are not acceptable on fines or court costs.

Trials
All sessions of court are open to the public, unless a particular judge orders his courtroom closed.

Failure to Appear
Any Defendant who fails to appear as required by the Court may have his or her bail revoked and a warrant issued for his/her arrest.