1. Home
  2. >
  3. Court Divisions
  4. >
  5. Criminal Court

Collier County Clerk of the Circuit Court
Criminal Department
3315 Tamiami Trail East, Ste. 102
Naples, FL 34112-5324
Phone: (239) 252-2646
Email: Criminal Department

 

Criminal Court

Felony Charges

A felony may consist of the following charges but not limited to:

  • Drug offenses
  • Sex-related crimes
  • Murder
  • Armed Robbery
  • Grand Theft

Felony Court

A felony charge is the most serious type of crime and are handled in Circuit Court. According to Florida law, for an offense to be a felony it must have a possible sentence of more than one year.

Private Attorney Representation

The U.S. Constitution guarantees everyone charged with a crime the right to legal counsel. You may hire an attorney of your choice to represent you. If you elect not to hire an attorney or be represented by legal counsel, you must know that a Judge cannot provide you legal advice. A ProSe litigant is held to the same standards as a licensed attorney.

Public Defender Representation

Public defenders are experienced trial attorneys licensed by the Florida Bar who specialize in criminal law. If you are unable to afford a private attorney, you may complete an application for a Public Defender. The Court can make a provisional appointment of the Public Defender, private attorney, or any other due process services on an interim basis, pending the Clerk’s determination of indigent status. The Affidavit of Indigent Status must be filed with the Clerk’s Office even if a provisional appointment has been made.

The provision of a Public Defender or court-appointed Attorney is not free. An application fee of $50.00 will be assessed whether the Public Defender is appointed or not (See “Resources” for contact information). To request a Public Defender, you will visit Customer Service on the 1st floor of the Collier County Clerk’s Office to complete an “Affidavit of Indigent Status”, or you can print it, fill it out and e-file it through the e-portal or mail it in. The fee does not have to be paid at the time of the application.

Witnesses

If you are a witness in a criminal case, you should communicate with the State Attorney assigned to the case.
(See “Resources” for contact information)

What Happens First?

When an individual is arrested on criminal charges, they are taken to the Collier County Jail and will appear before a Judge, usually within 24 hours. This hearing is where the judge will officially inform you of the accusations against you and if you will be given the opportunity to post bail. This hearing is known as “first appearance.”

What Is Bail?

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to be released from jail while you await trial by posting (paying) what is called “bail.” Bail can be paid in two ways, a cash bond or a property surety/bond. If you appear for trial and upon conclusion of your case, your bail money is returned (minus administrative fees). If you fail to appear, the Court retains your bond and a warrant is issued for your arrest.

How Is Bail Determined?

Your opportunity to post bail, as well as the amount, is determined by factors like the severity of the crime you have been accused, your criminal record and if the court thinks you may flee. If you can’t afford your bail amount, you can borrow it from a bail bondsman for a fee. You should understand that if you use a bondsman, they are entitled to collect their debt if you fail to appear for court.

Court Appearances

If you fail to appear in court for a criminal case, the Court may issue a “Bench Warrant” for your arrest and enter an “Order of Bond Estreature”, causing you to forfeit the money and/or collateral you posted for the bond. Additional penalties could also be imposed by the Court including losing your driving license.

What Is An Arraignment Hearing?

Formal reading of charges will be read to the defendant at a hearing called arraignment. The defendant will be asked to “enter a plea” of Not Guilty, and the case will be moved to either a Case Management docket or Early Resolution docket. The State Attorney’s Office determines the next appropriate court date.

Flow of Cases In Court

Case Management Conferences

These are felony proceedings in which the attorneys announce ready for jury trial, request a continuance or resolve the case through a plea. Court and counsel will discuss discovery due dates, goal dates, the scoresheet and issue of speedy trial. When the case is set for jury trial, the judge also typically sets the case for Pretrial Conference, Calendar Call and a Trial date. This is the natural progression of the felony cases. Some judges will move the case to a Plea docket for entry of a plea rather than resolve the case at this proceeding due to the amount of cases set on a particular day.

Pretrial Conferences

The attorneys will adsive the court if they are still on track for their trial date previously set by the court. The court and counsel will discuss pretrial discovery issues; including: depositions, expert evaluations, motions and length of trial. Cases ready for trial will generally remain set for the calendar call and jury trial dates previously set. A case may be continued if requested by counsel and approved by the court. A plea may be taken in lieu of proceeding to trial and the court may set the case for a plea docket rather than resolve the case at this time.

Calendar Call

Calendar Call dockets consist of felony cases only. it is the proceeding after a pretrial conference docket and before the jury trial. Attorneys will advise the court if they wish to proceed to trial, ask for continuance or resolve their case. Generally cases are already set for a jury trial docket, so the clerk would just need to select “Remains as Previously Set” in the continuance tab if the case proceeds to trial.

Jury Trial

This is a trial when a jury hears the case and renders a verdict. The number of jurors selected to hear a case is determined by the type of charge being tried.
Misdemeanor = 6 jurors, Felony = 6 jurors and Felony Capital = 12 jurors. Generally, the judges will choose 1 or 2 alternate jurors if the case is complex and/or the trial will last more than one day.

Early Resolution Hearings

This docket will consist of felony cases only. The cases are set directly to this docket from arraignment. Generally, this proceeding consists of defendants who might qualify for a diversion program or who have little to no prior reocrd and the plea offer is typically minimal.

What Is A Plea?

A plea deal is only available when a prosecutor (The State of Florida) is willing to make or accept one and is an agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant. It requires that the defendant plead either guilty or no contest in exchange for leniency, like reduced charges or sentencing. Accepting a plea deal still results in a criminal record in most cases but can reduce stress of going through a trial, or even protect others who are impacted by the trial.

Plea deals depend on the specifics of the case, including the severity, whether violence was involved, prior criminal record and whether there were mitigating circumstances. It is important to know that an offer from the State will not always be available should you choose not to accept it when offered. Often times a defendant feels the offer is too harsh so they reject it but then on the day of the trial they want to accept the State’s offer and not be tried by a jury. Generally, the offer is no longer an option, so the trial begins.

You may also enter a plea to the Bench/Court. This means that there is not a plea agreement or negotiation and that the Judge will determine a proper sentence.

Adjudication Withheld

Withheld adjudication is available in certain types of felony cases. A judge in a criminal proceeding can impose a sentence of probation on a defendant without first convicting that defendant of the underlying crime. The judge withholds imposing a conviction pending successful completion of the probationary term. If the defendant completes the term successfully and there are no further issues/orders in the case, the Withhold of Adjudication will remain. The defendant is not “convicted” of a crime. A “withhold” may qualify an individual to have a record sealed. Civil rights are not forfeited however the charge will show up on a criminal history record if not expunges/sealed.

On the other hand, if the defendant fails to successfully complete the term of probation, the judge then enters an order of conviction when a Violation of Probation matter is addressed in court. Moreover, at that juncture, a criminal defendant may be sentenced to a further term of incarceration. Civil rights are forfeited as a result of conviction.

Adjudicated Guilty

When you are adjudicated guilty, this means you have been formally convicted of the crime and are a “convicted felon” if the crime was a felony. There are life-changing consequences you may experience which may include: loss of employment, loss of child custody, loss of your civil rights and right to vote, immigration status, negative effects when purchasing a home, background checks and future job applications, and more.

State Probation

If you are sentenced to serve state probation, you must report to the probation department at 2500 Airport Rd immediately after sentencing unless directed otherwise in court. Generally most felony cases that are sentenced to Probation are supervised by State Probation. Intensive types of supervision may include drug offender and sex offender probation. Monthly probation fees apply.

You Are Now Leaving Our Website

Links to external, or third-party websites, are provided solely for visitors’ convenience. Following links to other sites is done so at your own risk and the owners of this website accept no liability for any linked sites or their content. Any link from our site to an external website does not imply that we endorse or accept any responsibility for its use. It is important for users to take necessary precautions, especially to ensure appropriate safety from viruses, worms, trojans, and other potentially destructive items. Users should review the privacy policies of external websites and other terms of use to learn more about what, why, and how they collect and use any personally identifiable information.