• What Should I Do if I’m Arrested as a Tourist in Florida?

What Should I Do if I’m Arrested as a Tourist in Florida?

If you’ve been arrested as a tourist in Florida while on vacation, you could face criminal charges just like you would as a local resident. That could mean a criminal record, jail time, fines and other consequences such as a suspended license.

With over 120 million tourists visiting Florida every year, it is not rare to see people from out of state with handcuffs on their wrists.

If You’ve Been Arrested as a Tourist, Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

The best thing you can do at this point is to contact a Florida criminal defense attorney.

Whether you’ve made a mistake or feel you’ve been unfairly arrested, you will need an aggressive defense to either get your charges dropped or to minimize the consequences.

Only Contact a Local Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

You should only contact a local Florida criminal defense attorney. There’s no point contacting someone back in your home state. Out-of-state lawyers won’t know local laws and court proceedings or have the reputation to get you out of this mess.

Each state has its own jurisdiction over crimes within its borders. So if you were arrested in Pinellas County Florida, the court hearings will take place there.

Act Fast

Don’t delay, act fast. In some cases, you can deal with your arrest very quickly if our attorneys can prove there’s been a misunderstanding.

Our Florida criminal defense attorneys regularly help tourists from near and far. We know how stressful a time this can be and will take action fast, ensuring you can get home and hopefully keep your name clean.

We’ve seen all manner of crimes by tourists over the years, from DUIs because people weren’t aware of local laws to bar fights that arose rapidly.

Can I Return Home From Vacation in Florida if I’m Out on Bail?

In most cases, you can return home if you’re out on bail. You will only need to remain if a judge orders you to stay in the county at your first court appearance.

For future court hearings, a waiver for your presence will usually excuse you. You may also be able to have your case resolved via a written plea (called a ‘plea in absentia’), which also excuses you from going to court.

Our Florida tourist arrest attorneys will work hard to convince the court that the hearing can proceed without you.

After you’ve been released on bail, we will ask the court for an order which allows you to go home, so long as you return for any future court hearings that require your presence.

What if I Can’t Make It Back To Florida for Trial?

If you’ve been arrested as a tourist in Florida on vacation but can’t make it back for the trial, then a criminal defense attorney may be able to appear on your behalf. For example:

  • If you were charged with a misdemeanor in Florida, you might be issued with a ‘Notice to Appear’ (NTA) or taken to jail for booking. As it’s a misdemeanor charge, you can waive your presence in writing and state you want a Florida criminal defense attorney to represent you. This can allow your lawyer to fight on your behalf, while you return home.
  • If your offense qualifies for a PTD (Pre-Trial Diversion), then your attorney may need to negotiate with the prosecution to allow you to complete the program in your home state.

What Penalties Could I Face for an Arrest on Vacation in Florida?

Tourists arrested in Florida while on vacation face the same consequences as local residents if convicted of a crime. These penalties may be more or less severe than for the same crime in your home state.

If you do not deal with your changes quickly and properly, the penalties may worsen. For example, resisting arrest is an additional crime. Or failing to appear for a required court appearance will see you issued a bench warrant for another arrest.

Information is shared with jurisdictions across the U.S. So, you could be stopped in your home state and arrested for failing to appear in court in Florida.

The record of any conviction in Florida will result in a criminal record in your home state. Probate or parole agreements can also be enforced in your home state, and violations can result in further charges in Florida.

Arrested as a Tourist for a DUI in Florida While on Vacation

If you’ve been arrested as a tourist for a DUI in Florida, then you must appear in court. After arrest, your license will be suspended immediately. You may be given a temporary permit.

You should take action quickly as you could face strict penalties and a loss of license. You only have ten days to get your license back.

Florida is part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, including 44 other states. This agreement allows states to exchange data about driving violations.

That means, if you were arrested for a DUI here in Florida, you’d face the consequences in your home state too.

Read our guide on ‘What to Do If I Get a DUI on Vacation in Florida‘ here.

Contact a Florida Tourist Criminal Defense

If you’ve been arrested as a tourist in Florida while on vacation, then our Florida criminal defense lawyers can help.

We will work to prevent you from needing to go to court, get your charges dropped and keep your name clean. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, we’ll also work to prevent the loss of your license.

Free Consultations

Sean McQuaid is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg, FL. He has handled countless Florida DUI and DWI charges in his career, including for tourists. He is the president at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen.

With decades of experience helping people like you, we believe there is no better place to help you fight a DUI charge in Florida.

Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300