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Misdemeanor

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The Misdemeanor Department maintains the arrest paperwork on misdemeanor charges,
and prepares all county jail commitments for each defendant appearing at First Appearance
court hearings that are held 365 days a year.

The Misdemeanor Department also maintains the court records for misdemeanor offenses.
A misdemeanor is a violation of a Florida Statute that is punishable by a fine, court costs, probation,
or imprisonment in the county jail for no more than 1 year.

Misdemeanor offenses include petit theft, worthless checks, prostitution related charges,
possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia, resisting arrest without violence,
battery (domestic violence) and assault.

In addition to criminal misdemeanor cases, the county criminal court maintains civil infraction cases.
The ordinance violation cases are punishable by a fine or civil penalty, and they are littering, boating,
animal control, water restrictions.

What happens after an arrest on a misdemeanor charge and I am released from the Columbia County Jail?
If you have bonded out of jail or have been released by a judge, you will be given a court date at the time of release,
you will be notified by mail of any future court dates. You are to remain in contact with your bondsman for any upcoming
court appearances. Notices will be sent to the address that you gave when you were arrested.

What if I have a change of address?
If you move, it is your responsibility to notify the Clerk's Office in writing. Mail us at the address listed.
173 NE Hernando Avenue, Lake City Fl. 32055
Attn: Misdemeanor Department.

What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is a hearing where the defendant is advised of the formal charges filed by the State Attorney or law enforcement
and is allowed to enter a plea to the charges.

If you have a private attorney, a written plea of not guilty may be entered in your behalf, and a waiver of your appearance at the
arraignment hearing may be filed. If no such document has been filed with the Clerk's Office, you must appear in person.
If you enter an oral plea of not guilty to the charges, a trial or non-jury date may be set by the court at that time.
If you enter a plea of guilty or no contest to the charges, you may be sentenced at that time.
If you qualify for the Public Defender, you may ask the court at your arraignment to appoint the Public Defender to represent you in future court hearings.

Can I change my court date after notification?
The Clerk's office cannot change your court date for you. Please contact your attorney to help you with this problem.

What happens if I fail to appear for my court date?
Failure to appear may result in serious consequences. A felony judge may issue a warrant for your arrest.
You may forfeit any bond that you have posted, thus losing money or collateral.
If you are arrested for failure to appear you may be held in the Columbia County Jail without bond.

Can anyone attend a criminal proceeding?
All misdemeanor sessions are public unless a Judge closes certain proceedings.
Spectators are expected to dress and behave themselves properly while in attendance at any court session.
No tank tops or shorts are allowed in any of the courtrooms. Pagers and cellular telephones are to be turned off while in the courtrooms.

What if I've been subpoenaed?
A subpoena is traditionally defined as a command to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony regarding a certain matter.
Testimony is normally given at a court of law before a judge or hearing officer, or by deposition, in the presence of a court reporter.

If you are served with a subpoena and have any questions, or are unable to attend, you must contact the agency or attorney that subpoenaed you.
If you are subpoenaed by the Clerk's Office in reference to a civil infraction and are unable to attend, you must notify the Clerk's Office prior to the date specified.
If you fail to respond to a subpoena, you may be held in contempt of court.