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My Visiting Relative Got Arrested, How Can I Help?

Florida, being the tropical place that it is, attracts many tourists from other areas of our country and even internationally. The Florida Law Enforcement is constantly arresting many out-of-state individuals who are vacationing or visiting friends and relatives. Although non-residents have the potential to be charged with any law they break, most of these arrests stem from incidents involving alcohol or drugs.

Visiting relatives can cause large amounts of stress for most people. You may not be aware of an uncle or cousin’s drinking problem until they show up handcuffed at your front door. Here’s how the process usually plays out:

Jurisdiction

The state in which the alleged crime occurred is the state that has jurisdiction to prosecute the offense. So, for example, if your relative lives in New York, but is arrested here in Florida, then the state of Florida has the right to prosecute your relative for that offense.

It is important to know that your relative cannot simply return to their home state and ignore the charges from the other state.

Misdemeanors

Often, out of state residents who are arrested face misdemeanor charges, such as driving while intoxicated. Many states, including Florida, allow the defendant to hire a local attorney who can appear for the defendant in most criminal proceedings. That means your relative would not have to bear the expense of traveling to the state in which the alleged misdemeanor occurred.

Felonies

If your relative is arrested for a felony, one of the first things to happen is a bail hearing. If the arrest happens in a state other than your relative’s home state then it is unlikely that the judge will release them on their own recognizance because they do not have ties to the community. Instead, they will likely be required to post bail, a kind of guarantee to the court they will come back for further proceedings.

If your relative is convicted of a crime, then in most circumstances the conviction becomes part of the public record. Remind all visiting relatives that if they are arrested while visiting, it is important to adhere to all of the rules in the jurisdiction.

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