Circuit Criminal FAQ's


General Information | Criminal FAQ | Criminal Glossary

To obtain information on a Criminal case, search our online records.

Frequently Asked Questions:


WHAT IS A FELONY?
According to Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, "A crime of a graver or more serious nature than those designated as misdemeanors; e.g. aggravated assault (felony) as contrasted with simple assault (misdemeanor). Under federal law, and many state statutes, any offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year"

HOW CAN I CHANGE MY COURT DATE?
If your court date has already been set, the Clerk's Office cannot change it. If there is a problem with your date, you or your attorney should contact the office of the Judge assigned to your case and/or file the appropriate "Motion".

JUDGES OFFICES
Felony, Circuit Court

Although it is improper for a Judge to speak to any party involved in a pending case about the case, each Judge's Office has an assistant who may be able to help you. Please keep in mind that the assistants may not give you any legal advice.


Circuit Judges
Judge Mark H. Jones
Courthouse Annex
502 Whitehead Street
3rd Floor
Key West, FL  33040
Sandra Bazo/Cortney Menendez
Judicial Assistant / Judicial Staff Assistant
305-292-3422 / 305-292-3345
FAX: 305-295-3625
Judge Richard G. Payne
Courthouse Annex
502 Whitehead Street
4th Floor
Key West, FL  33040
Kathy Rupp
Judicial Assistant
305-292-3433
FAX: 305-292-3611
Judge Luis M. Garcia
Upper Keys Government Center
88820 Overseas Highway
Tavernier, FL  33070
Robin Barber/Greta Albury
Judicial Assistant / Judicial Staff Assistant
305-852-7165
FAX: 305-852-7113

HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT A CASE?
To obtain information on a felony case, search our online records.

Due to the confidential nature of juvenile cases, you will not find these cases on the system. Direct your inquiries to the Juvenile Department service counter also located in all courthouses.

Personal assistance may be obtained on felony cases at the service counter of each division.
Key West Courthouse
500 Whitehead Street
Key West, FL  33040
305-294-4641
Marathon Branch Courthouse
3117 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-6027
Upper Keys Courthouse
88820 Overseas Highway
Plantation Key, FL  33070
305-852-7145

HOW CAN I PRESS CHARGES AGAINST SOMEONE?
The Clerk of Court does not have the authority to file criminal charges. Please contact your local law enforcement agency or the State Attorney's Office.

For information call the office of the State Attorney at:
Lower Keys:
305-292-3400
Middle Keys:
305-289-2595
Upper Keys:
305-852-7170

To find out more information please visit the Monroe County Sheriff's website.

HOW DO I PAY RESTITUTION?
If you are on probation or community control, check with your Probation or Community Control Officer for payment instructions.

Telephone numbers are:
State Probation

Lower Keys:
305-292-6742
Middle Keys:
305-289-2340
Upper Keys:
305-853-3262

Read your copy of the "Restitution Order". This document will list the provisions regarding restitution payments.

If you are not on probation or community control and you were ordered to make restitution payments to the Clerk of Courts, they should be made to the sentencing location. Be sure to indicate that the payment is for "restitution", include your name and complete case number so payment is posted to the proper case. Money orders, personal check (no two party checks), or bank draft only. DO NOT SEND CASH.

Locations are as follows:
Clerk of the Court
500 Whitehead Street
KeyWest, FL  33040
Clerk of the Court
3117 Overseas Hwy
Marathon, FL  33050
Clerk of the Court
88820 Overseas Hwy
Plantation Keys, FL  33070

WHAT IF I CAN’T PAY MY FINE?
If you having a problem paying your fine and you are on probation or community control, contact your Probation or Community Control Officer at:

State Probation
Lower Keys:
305-292-6742
Middle Keys:
305-289-2340
Upper Keys:
305-853-3262

The Clerk’s Office cannot pardon, defer, or alter fines imposed by the Court.

WHAT IF MY PAYMENT IS LATE?
If your payment is going to be late, notify the appropriate office. Failure to do so could result in a "Bench Warrant" being issued for your arrest.

If you are on probation or community control, call:

STATE PROBATION
Department of Corrections

Lower Keys:
305-292-6742
Middle Keys:
305-289-2340
Upper Keys:
305-853-3262

**The Clerk’s Office cannot pardon, defer, or alter fines imposed by the Court.

HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN TO COME TO COURT?
If you have bonded out of jail or been released by a Judge, you were notified at the time of your release of your upcoming court date.

You will be notified of any change in this date by mail. All notices will be sent to the address that you gave when you were arrested.

If you change your mailing address, it is your responsibility to notify the Clerk’s Office in writing
or in person at:

Clerk of the Court
500 Whitehead Street
KeyWest, FL  33040
305-294-4641
Clerk of the Court
3117 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-6027
Clerk of the Court
88820 Overseas Highway
Plantation Keys, FL  33070
305-852-7145

Notification of change of address is very important. Your failure to appear for your court date could result in you being re-arrested or taken into custody.

I HAVE MOVED. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
It is the defendant’s responsibility to keep the Clerk’s Office informed of their correct address.

If your mailing address changes, you must submit your new address in person or by mail to the appropriate department:
Clerk of the Court
500 Whitehead Street
KeyWest, FL  33040
305-294-4641
Clerk of the Court
3117 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-6027
Clerk of the Court
88820 Overseas Highway
Plantation Keys, FL  33070
305-852-7145

Failure on your part to notify this office of your address change could result in you failing to appear for a court date. This, in turn, could result in your re-arrest.

CRIMINAL RECORD SEALED/EXPUNGED

There are very strict criteria for sealing or expunging court records. Some of the requirements are:

  1. You have been charged but not convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense because adjudication was withheld;
  2. The State Attorney declined to prosecute;
  3. You have not had any other court record sealed or expunged in the State of Florida;

You may be eligible to have court records pertaining to your case sealed or expunged. By Florida law, there are specific charges that cannot be sealed or expunged regardless of whether or not adjudication was withheld.

There are significant differences between a sealed record and a record that has been expunged.

A sealed record could be opened for inspection by a judge, you, your attorney, a criminal justice agency, and in specific situations, a prospective employer.

An expunged record would no longer exist, since the file and any references to it are destroyed.

The Clerk’s Office has a free packet that provides you with detailed instructions on the regulations governing sealed and expunged court files.

There are fees, which will be charged for processing requests. The initial fee charged by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is $75.00. There are additional fees charged by local law enforcement agencies.

If the judge approves the motion, your record will be sealed or expunged. The Clerk’s Office will then provide certified copies of the order to those agencies that have a record of your arrest so that they may seal or expunge their records as well. The Clerk’s Office will charge you $25.00 for this service.

For additional information contact:
Clerk of the Court
500 Whitehead Street
KeyWest, FL  33040
305-294-4641
Clerk of the Court
3117 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-6027
Clerk of the Court
88820 Overseas Highway
Plantation Keys, FL  33070
305-852-7145

MAY I ATTEND A CRIMINAL TRIAL?
All sessions of court are open to the public unless a judge has ordered a court proceeding to be closed.

Spectators are expected to dress and deport themselves properly while in attendance of any court session.

WHAT IS AN ARRAIGNMENT?
A procedure whereby the accused is brought before the court to plead to a charge in a charging document, ("Information", "Indictment", "Citation", etc.). The charge and rights are read to the defendant. The defendant is then asked if he or she wants to plead "guilty", "not guilty", or "nolo contendere" (no contest).

In some instances, the case might be disposed of at the arraignment. In most instances, however, the case is "continued" to another court event at a later date.

If the case is continued, you will be served a "Notice to Appear" while you are attending the arraignment court event. This "notice" will list the date, time, and place you are to appear for the next court event regarding your case.

Occasionally, for various reasons, the Court might change the date, time, and/or place of your next court event. You will be notified of this change by U.S. Mail. It is very important that you ensure that the address listed in the court case file is correct. If you change your mailing address, you must promptly report the change to the Clerk’s Office in person or in writing. Your failure to appear for a court event could result in you being arrested and subject to additional penalties.

If you have an attorney, he or she may enter a written plea in your behalf and waive your appearance at the arraignment. If not, you must appear. Be sure to check with your attorney as to whether you must appear.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I FAIL TO APPEAR?
Failure to appear can have serious consequences. The Court may issue a "Bench Warrant" for your arrest and enter an "Order of Bond Estreature", consequently causing you to forfeit the money and/or collateral you posted for the bond. Additional penalties could be imposed by the Court.

The Clerk’s Office cannot set-aside, recall, or reinstate a "Bench Warrant". Only the Courts have this authority.

HOW CAN I GET A "CRIMINAL RECORDS" SEARCH & LETTER?
For various reasons including applying for certain job positions, you must furnish a copy of the results of a "criminal record" search. You may obtain a letter reflecting the results of this search by contacting:
Clerk of the Court
500 Whitehead Street
KeyWest, FL  33040
305-294-4641
Clerk of the Court
3117 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-6027
Clerk of the Court
88820 Overseas Highway
Plantation Keys, FL  33070
305-852-7145

The search will only include Monroe County information.
Payment for the record search must be received before the search is conducted.
Fee charges are:
$1.00 per year per person
$1.00 per page for copies
$1.00 per document for certification

When your request is made please include as much information as possible. Each request is handled as quickly as possible in the order received. This request can be made by mail or in person at any office location.

Payment must be made before the record search can be conducted.

I NEED A HARDSHIP DRIVER'S LICENSE. WHAT CAN I DO?
Conviction of various charges can result in the Court suspending your driving privilege for a significant period of time. You might be eligible for a "Hardship Driver’s License". Your attorney can advise you as to the process and requirements involved.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (DHSMV), through a hearing officer, determines the eligibility of applicants for Hardship Driver’s Licenses.

For additional information, contact:
Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV)
Lower Keys
3439 South Roosevelt Boulevard
Key West, FL  33040
305-293-6338
Middle Keys
3380 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-2306
Upper Keys
101463 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL  33037
305-853-3563

DRIVER’S LICENSE REINSTATEMENT
If your driving privilege has been suspended as a result of non-compliance for a violation or charge in Monroe County, the Clerk’s Office can reinstate your license as long as the Monroe County suspension is the only open suspension on your driver’s license record. The cost for this reinstatement is $25.00.

The Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicle (DHSMV) can also reinstate your license for a fee of $25.00. You must have proof that all outstanding suspensions in every county in the State of Florida have been satisfied.

For additional information, contact:
The Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DSHMV)
Lower Keys
3439 South Roosevelt Boulevard
Key West, FL  33040
305-293-6338
Middle Keys
3380 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-2306
Upper Keys
101463 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL  33037
305-853-3563

I WOULD LIKE AN ATTORNEY BUT CAN'T AFFORD ONE. WHAT CAN I DO?
Florida Statute 27.51(1) states, "(1) The public defender shall represent, without additional compensation, any person who is determined by the court to be indigent as provided in s.27.52... ... ... ..."

By law, the Clerks Office cannot provide you with legal advice or recommend a particular attorney. This includes the filling out of documents and forms.

If you have been charged with a CRIMINAL offense and cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for the services of the Public Defender.

You are eligible for the services of the Public Defender if you are charged with a felony, misdemeanor or criminal traffic case. If you are charged with a traffic citation that does not carry the possible penalty of jail time, you are not entitled to the services of the Public Defender. Also, if you are involved in a civil case or a family law case, you are not entitled to the services of the Public Defender. If you are involved in any of these types of cases, you should not contact the Indigence Examiner unless you are so ordered by the judge. In addition, the Indigence Examiner can only assist you in Monroe County cases. He is unable to assist you if you are charged with a case in another county.

Currently, a person qualifies for representation by the Office of the Public Defender if he or she meets the following criteria: (I) their net weekly income does not exceed $412.98 plus an additional $145.19 per each dependant in the household; (2) they do not have any disposable or equitable property or goods which can be used to secure a private attorney; and (3) they have not already hired a private attorney to represent them in additional cases, with few exceptions.

There is a state-mandated application fee of $40 to apply for the Public Defender. If you do not meet the qualifications listed above, you should not waste your $40 to apply. Instead, seek the assistance of private counsel. The standards for qualifying for the Public Defender are set by State Statute. Your application will be a sworn court document and perjury laws apply to any information contained in it.

You may make application with the 16th Judicial Circuit's Indigence Examiner, Fred Pearce, by calling 305-292-3587 or by faxing 305-295-3652.

I AM A WITNESS IN A CRIMINAL CASE HOW CAN I OBTAIN INFORMATION?
All questions regarding court appearances should be directed to Counsel that has subpoenaed you as a witness.

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