Tampa Attorney on the Extradition of Witnesses
Being called to testify in a criminal case is often an extremely frustrating experience. The prosecutor or the criminal defense attorney in the case might be seeking your testimony for different reasons. Depositions, trials or hearings are often rescheduled at the last minute.
Cases can be continued again and again without any discussion of the inconvenience to the witnesses involved. For any witness, the inconvenience can be overwhelming, especially when the witness is required to testify for a criminal trial in another state.
We created this article to discuss the process for the extradition of witnesses to testify in criminal cases in Florida. Call the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, at (813) 250-0500 for more information.
Out of State Witness for Criminal Case in Florida
Florida law provides for a mechanism to obtain a court order from another state that compels a witness who resides in that other state to travel to Florida to testify pursuant to a summons, subpoena, order or notice to appear in any Florida criminal trial, investigation, or grand jury proceeding in a criminal case.
If a witness is incarcerated in prison in Florida, but needed as a witness for a case pending in a different county in Florida, the prosecutor will often file a “Writ of Habeas Corpus Ad Testificandum.” The court order is signed by the judge and issued over the seal of the clerk of the court. It commands the custodian of a prisoner to bring the prisoner to court in order to testify as a witness during a depostion, hearing or at trial.
Florida Witness for Criminal Case in Another State
Florida law also provides for a mechanism to compel a witness who resides in Florida to travel to another State to testify pursuant to a summons, subpoena, order or notice to appear in any criminal trial, investigation, or grand jury proceeding in another state’s criminal case.
Our office is often contacted by attorneys out of state who want to compel a witness located in Florida to attend a hearing or trial in a courtroom out of state. We have also been retained by witnesses in these matters who do not wish to travel to another state to testify.
Being Forced to Testify in a Criminal Case
Many individuals do not realize that Florida law provides that a witness can be taken into custody and compelled to testify in another state. Defenses exist when the testimony is not material or necessary, when compelling such testimony would create an undue hardship, or when certain constitutional or procedural rules are not strictly followed.
If you are facing extradition as a witness in a criminal case under Florida law then you are entitled to be represented by an attorney at any such hearing to make sure your constitutional rights are protected. You are also entitled to be represented by an attorney to make sure that all requirements are reasonable under the circumstances so that the court order does not create an undue hardship on you.
Avoiding “Undue Hardship” as a Witness in a Criminal Case
In order to avoid any undue hardship, the Court may order that the party requesting your attendance must pay for your travel expenses including a plane ticket for you (and possibly your minor children if you are not otherwise able to secure child care while you are compelled to travel), cab fare to and from the airport, a hotel room, food allowance, as well as any other witness fee required by statute or may be reasonable under the circumstances.
The court can also impose certain time limitations concerning when you must leave and when you are free to return to your home state.
Contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss any order to testify as a witness in a criminal trial, grand jury proceeding or trial. Our attorneys are experienced in protecting a witness facing extradition to or from the State of Florida. Call (813) 250-0500 to discuss the particular facts of your case with a criminal defense lawyer at the Sammis Law Firm today.
We represent witnesses facing extradition under Florida law to testify in a criminal case throughout the Tampa Bay area including Tampa, Hillsborough County, Bartow, Polk County, Dade City and New Port Richey, Pasco County, Bradenton, Manatee County, Brooksville, Hernando County, and Sarasota County, Florida.
Specific Florida Statutory Provisions Dealing with Extradition of a Witness
Florida State Statute Secution 942.02 deals with summoning a witness in Florida to testify in another state and provides:
- If a judge of a court of record, in any state which by its laws has made provision for commanding persons within that state to attend and testify in Florida, certifies under the seal of such court that there is a criminal prosecution pending in such court, or that a grand jury investigation has commenced or is about to commence, that a person being within Florida is a material witness in such prosecution or grand jury investigation, and that that person’s presence will be required for a specified number of days, upon presentation of such certificate to any judge of a court of record in the county in which such person is, such judge shall fix a time and place for a hearing and shall make an order directing the witness to appear at a time and place certain for the hearing. The witness shall at all times be entitled to counsel.
- If at a hearing the judge determines that the witness is material and necessary, that it will not cause undue hardship to the witness to be compelled to attend and testify in the prosecution or a grand jury investigation in the other state, and that the laws of the state in which the prosecution is pending, or grand jury investigation has commenced or is about to commence, will give to the witness protection from arrest and the service of civil and criminal process, the judge shall issue a summons, with a copy of the certificate attached, directing the witness to attend and testify in the court where the prosecution is pending, or where a grand jury investigation has commenced or is about to commence at a time and place specified in the summons. In any such hearing the certificate shall be prima facie evidence of all the facts stated therein.
- If said certificate recommends that the witness be taken into immediate custody and delivered to an officer of the requesting state to assure her or his attendance in the requesting state, such judge may, in lieu of notification of the hearing, direct that such witness be forthwith brought before her or him for said hearing; and the judge at the hearing being satisfied of the desirability of such custody and delivery, for which determination the certificate shall be prima facie proof of such desirability, may, in lieu of issuing subpoena or summons, order that said witness be forthwith taken in custody and delivered to an officer of the requesting state.
- If the witness, who is summoned as above provided, after being paid or tendered by some properly authorized person the sum of 10 cents a mile for each mile by the ordinary traveled route to and from the court where the prosecution is pending and $5 for each day that the witness is required to travel and attend as a witness, fails without good cause to attend and testify as directed in the summons, the witness shall be punished in the manner provided for the punishment of any witness who disobeys a summons issued from a court of record in Florida.
Florida Statute Section 942.03 provides for a mechanism for a witness from another state to be summoned to testify in Florida and provides:
- If a person in any state, which by its laws has made provision for commanding persons within its borders to attend and testify in criminal prosecutions or grand jury investigations commenced or about to commence in this state, is a material witness in a prosecution pending in a court of record in Florida, or in a grand jury investigation which has commenced or is about to commence, a judge of such court may issue a certificate under the seal of the court stating these facts and specifying the number of days the witness will be required. Said certificate may include a recommendation that the witness be taken into immediate custody and delivered to an officer of Florida to assure his or her attendance in Florida. This certificate shall be presented to a judge of a court of record in the county in which the witness is found.
- If the witness is summoned to attend and testify in Florida, the witness shall be tendered the sum of 10 cents a mile for each mile by the ordinary traveled route to and from the court where the prosecution is pending, and $5 for each day that he or she is required to travel and attend as a witness. A witness who has appeared in accordance with the provisions of the summons shall not be required to remain within Florida a longer period of time than the period mentioned in the certificate, unless otherwise ordered by the court. If such witness, after coming into Florida, fails without good cause to attend and testify as directed in the summons, the witness shall be punished in the manner provided for the punishment of any witness who disobeys a summons issued from a court of record in Florida.
Florida Statute Section 942.04 provides for certain exemptions from arrest and process of service under Florida law and provides:
- If a person comes into Florida in obedience to a summons directing him or her to attend and testify in Florida, the person shall not while in Florida pursuant to such summons be subject to arrest or the service of process, civil or criminal, in connection with matters which arose before his or her entrance into Florida under the summons.
- If a person passes through Florida while going to another state in obedience to a summons to attend and testify in that state, or while returning therefrom, the person shall not while so passing through Florida be subject to arrest or the service of process, civil or criminal, in connection with matters which arose before his or her entrance into Florida under the summons.
Florida Statute Section 942.05 sets out uniformity of interpretation and provides:
This chapter shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of the states which enact it, and shall be only applicable to such state as shall enact reciprocal powers to this state relative to the matter of securing attendance of witnesses as herein provided.
Contact an attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, to discuss your case today. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in providing aggressive representation to protect your rights under Florida law. Call (813) 250-0500 today. We represent clients in extradition cases throughout Tampa and Hillsborough County, FL, and the surrounding areas including St. Petersburg or Clearwater in Pinellas County, New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, Bartow or Lakeland in Polk County, Bradenton in Manatee County or Brooksville in Hernando County.
This article was last updated on Friday, October 26, 2018.