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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 20363
Experience:  Licensed attorney with 29 yrs. exp. in criminal law
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My girlfriend had a roommate in Spring Hill , Florida ( Tampa/Clearwater

Customer Question

My girlfriend had a roommate in Spring Hill , Florida ( Tampa/Clearwater area ) about 8 months ago . At that time Christina was employed as a waitress and making very good money ( paying bills for not only herself but for her roommate ) . In about May 2010 , she accidentally broke her leg and was unable to work . She left Florida and moved in with her sister in South Carolina . When she left the roommate in Florida there was no lease/obligations/agreements etc. and all bills were paid . I believe the roommate was quite unhappy with Christina moving , but she didn't have much choice. Recently Christina discovered that this ex-roommate filed charges against her that she stole property ( purse/clothes/etc ) totaling about $1000 with the police . These charges appear to be completely false and just placed out of revenge for moving out. Christina was never notiified of these charges in any way . I'm guessing that a court date was set and as she was never notified and did not know this was occuring a bench warrant must have been issued for her non - appearance . She only knows this because her older sister ( who lives in florida ) was driving and pulled over ( the police thought it was Christina ) and were going to arrest her .

What should be her next steps ? I do not want her returning to florida to only be arrested . She is a student and would jeopardize her studies and career doing so .

please advise .
Thank you
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 6 years ago.

Unfortunately your facts don't exactly add up. There could not be a "bench warrant" unless your girlfriend had been arrested or served with a notice to appear or summons of some sort. In other words, bench warrants can only be issued once the court has jurisdiction. On the other hand, there could be an "arrest warrant" issued for your sister based on criminal allegations. Either way, there is apparently some sort of warrant for your girlfriend issued in Florida. If this is a criminal issue, then she will want to try to resolve it as soon as possible. Otherwise, what happened to her sister could happen to her, even in South Carolina. In other words, she could be stopped for some other reason by the police and if they run a warrant check this warrant could come up.

If I were her, I would contact the State's Attorney's Office in the county where Spring Hill is and see what the alleged charges are against her. If the police haven't referred them to the State's Attorney yet, she may have to call that police department. She will not want to make any statement about whether or not she even knows the person that has made these allegations unless and until she talks to a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can assist her through the process in an effort to clear this up.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
sounds like a criminal defense attorney is the best solution. As she is a student what is the best way to find one there ? or would one in South Carolina work as well ?
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 6 years ago.
Your are right, a good criminal defense attorney is what she needs. She will need one located in Florida in the county or close to it, where these allegations are pending. Even if she had a criminal defense attorney in SC that was also licensed in Florida, she would have to pay for them to travel to Florida and that would be cost prohibitive.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
best way to find a good one in Florida ?
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 6 years ago.
If she doesn't know of one personally, then she will probably want to contact the Florida Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service. There is a small fee for the service but a consultation with the attorney she is referred to is included in that. You can find out more about that at:
Marsha411JD and 2 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Dear Marsha,


I was successful in contacting the ex roomate , making restitution to her and having her drop the charges with the ADA. However somewhere in the process there is still a 'failure to appear" summons(?) issued because Christina did not appear at thecourt date ( fyi she had no notification of the date ). With the charges dropped , how can I resolve this failure to appear issue WITHOUT having her go back to florida and surrender to the sheriff's office ? Is this possible .


Thank you


Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 6 years ago.
Hello again Jon,

She might try contacting either the Court who issued the failure to appear and provide the facts about apparently no proof of service and now dropped charges to see if they will withdraw the summons or warrant without a motion, or she might try asking the ADA who had the case if they would make a motion to the court, based on lack of service, to withdraw the summons or warrant or whatever it is. If that doesn't work, then she will, at the very least have to hire a Florida criminal defense attorney to file a motion for her. That may or may not keep her from having to go back to Florida but it is at least a shot.