Thousands of Spring Breakers flock to Sarasota County each year to play in the powdery white sand, take in the salt life culture, and hit the party scene. And given the number of craft beer breweries and plethora of pubs in the area — and the fact that you can drink on the beach — libations abound during the Spring Break season.
This influx of Spring Breakers, while great for the local economy, places a heavy burden on the court system and taxpayers. In March and April of each year, arrests for minor alcohol-related charges skyrocket in Sarasota. Young out-of-towners often face charges for common Spring Break crimes, such as possession of alcohol by a minor and having a fake ID. The courts had to find a viable way to manage these cases. Enter: Administrative Order 2017-2.2: Fines for Offenses Committed on Spring Break 2017 in Sarasota County.
What is the purpose of Administrative Order 2017-2.2?
To minimize the burden on the Sarasota County Court, each year the 12th Judicial Circuit Court issues an Administrative Order that streamlines non-violent, alcohol-related cases during Spring Break. Chief Judge Charles E. Williams signed Administrative Order 2017-2.2 in February 2017 to establish fines for these types of crimes committed during the Spring Break 2017 season in Sarasota County.
The order provides: “Spring Break will add numerous out-of-state cases for the 2017 workload of law enforcement, judges, clerks of court, and other staff. Assuming these cases were processed in the ordinary manner, the cost to county citizens would be substantial and far outweigh any benefits.” In the interest of “orderly administration of justice,” the order establishes a fine schedule and efficient method for processing these types of cases.
Below, we discuss what this order entails and what your options are if you have recently been charged with one of the listed offenses. Before deciding how to proceed with your case, speak to the Goldman Wetzel defense team to ensure you understand your options and how your choice will affect you. Call 727-828-3900 for a free consultation.
What happens when Spring Breakers are charged with an alcohol-related offense?
The Administrative Order only applies to the following four non-violent, alcohol-related offenses committed between March 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017:
- Possession of an open container
- Littering in a county park
- Possession of alcohol under 21 years of age
- Possession of false identification
When a Spring Breaker is charged with one of the above offenses, s/he will receive a “Plea of Guilt/No Contest in Absentia” form. The form will indicate what offense the defendant has been charged with, along with an accompanying fine. At this point, the defendant has two options: enter a plea of Guilty/No Contest and pay the fine, or plead Not Guilty and go to court to fight the charges.
What is the effect of pleading guilty or no contest?
If the defendant elects to enter a plea of Guilty/No Contest, then s/he is only required to make the election on the form and send it the provided address along with the accompanying fine.
So long as the judge accepts the plea, the defendant will not have to go court. The judge will withhold adjudication, accept the payment as a fulfillment of the fine, and the defendant will be done with the case. (If, however, the defendant is not a U.S. citizen, the plea may subject him to deportation.)
What is the effect of pleading not guilty?
Pleading guilty to a Spring Break offense means no court and faster resolution. However, it also means waiving your right to a hearing. The defendant still has the right to fight the charges, if s/he so chooses. If s/he decides to enter of plea of Not Guilty, s/he will need to appear before a judge at the arraignment date provided on the form. Of course, s/he will also need to present proof during the proceedings to support his/her case.
Get a free consult with a defense team for Spring Break cases.
If you have been charged with an alcohol-related crime in Sarasota, Manatee, or Pinellas County, get legal counsel before taking any action. Our lawyers at Goldman Wetzel know how to effectively handle Spring Break cases, and how to minimize the penalties on your behalf. After reviewing your case, we can explain your rights and responsibilities and help you take the appropriate action.
Your decisions can impact your future. Call Goldman Wetzel at 727-828-3900 for a free consultation with our defense attorneys.