Notice of Appearance | Initial Pleading

The first pleading that you should file in any case is your Notice of Appearance.

All in One Notice of Appearance

The example below is a “Combined Notice of Appearance.”  So it combines all of the following into one page:

  • Notice of Appearance of Counsel;
  • Waiver of Arraignment;
  • Written Plea of Not Guilty;
  • Demand for Discovery;
  • Reservation of Rights Pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190(c);
  • Demand for a trial by jury.

This is a typical pleading that I file in the beginning of every case.  However, you may want to modify it according to your Judicial Circuit.

Know Your Local Rules and Policies

Some prosecutors state that you waive your client’s eligibility to enter into a diversion if you demand discovery.  Accordingly, you need to remove the demand for discovery if your client is seeking a diversion.  Some state attorneys require that a diversion be agreed upon at arraignment.  You need to remove the waiver of arraignment and written plea of not guilty if that is the case.  Consider submitting a Notice of Appearance without any of the other provisions if the state attorney has not filed charges.

You can still run into trouble filing standard forms if you do not know your local rules of procedure and the policies of the local state attorney.  So if you are just starting out, look before you leap.  The best thing you can do is to ask another attorney who has experience in that circuit.  Every attorney has his or her own forms that they use.  Look at those forms, you can use this one, use another form, but eventually, you will come up with your own.

Pay careful attention to motions and reservations of rights in the various forms you see.  Those are included due to an attorney’s past experiences.  These seemingly innocuous phrases represent “lessons learned” by that attorney.

This form is for use by attorneys only.  You need to file a waiver of the right to an attorney if you are representing yourself pro se.  While we are on that topic, I would like to remind you how much of a bad idea it is to represent yourself.

Download ( Combined-Notice-and-Demand-for-Trial-by-Jury.pdf, PDF, 11KB)

Speedy Trial | Written Waiver | Rule 3.191

Your right to a speedy trial is guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Florida provides additional rights in Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191.  Both the constitutional right to a speedy trial and Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191 apply.

Speedy Trial?  How Long is too Long?

The constitutional right to a speedy trial does not define a certain length of time.  Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191 provides that a defendant must be brought to trial within 90 days of arrest if charged with a misdemeanor.  A defendant must be brought to trial within 175 days of arrest if charged with a felony. The defendant can move to have the case dismissed if the state fails to bring the defendant to trial within the 90 or 175 days.

Waiving Your Right to a Speedy Trial

The 90 and 175 day time limits do not apply if the defendant waives the right to a speedy trial.  There are many good reasons that a defendant would waive the right to a speedy trial.  Why a defendant would want to do so is another topic. However, typically it involves needing additional time to prepare or additional time to negotiate a resolution.

How to Waive your Right to a Speedy Trial

Most of the time, at least in my cases, an attorney has filed a wavier of appearance and the defendant will not be there for the calendar call. In that case, the attorney simply tells the judge that the defendant waives the right to a speedy trial.  That works most of the time.  The judge is essentially taking the attorney at his word that he has the client’s authorization to do so. The judge may place the defendant under oath and ask the defendant he or she understands the right being waived.  If the defendant is not at the calendar call, due to a waiver of appearance, some judges like for the file to contain a written waiver signed by the defendant.  Each judge is different.

Below is a written waiver of speedy trial in the event the judge asks you to supplement the file with a signed waiver.  There is no standardized form.  This is one that I created and have used on numerous occasions.  The is no rule that a written waiver needs to be notarized, but it is my personal preference to have it notarized.

The form is in fillable PDF format.  Please feel free to use, distribute, edit, copy, link to, etc.

Submitted by DUI Attorney Michael Dye.

Download ( Waiver-of-Speedy-Trial.pdf, PDF, 25KB)