Florida Court Explains Circumstances that Warrant Dismissal of an Appeal

The Florida legislature drafted criminal rules of procedure and appellate rules of procedure that a defendant must follow in defending against the charges he or she faces or appealing a conviction. It is essential to comply with the obligations set forth under the rules of procedure, as the failure to do so can adversely affect your case. In only the most extreme circumstances, however, will a failure to comply with rules of appellate procedure result in the dismissal of an appeal.

A Florida district court recently quashed a trial court’s dismissal of an appeal for failure to file a brief in a timely manner, and in doing so explained when dismissal of an appeal may be warranted. If you reside in Sarasota and are charged with a crime, it is important to retain an experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

The Defendant’s Case

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of two misdemeanor crimes. He appealed the verdict and his sentence. On appeal, the defendant failed to file a brief in support of his appeal within the time set forth by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. The court issued a warning to the defendant and set forth an order stating that if he did not file his brief within thirty days, his appeal would be dismissed. Thirty days after the court’s order the defendant’s attorney filed a motion for an extension of time to file the brief. The defendant’s attorney explained that the delay in filing the brief was caused by the fact that she did not yet have the trial transcript. The court denied the motion and dismissed the defendant’s appeal. The defendant appealed the dismissal of his appeal to the District Court.

Grounds for Dismissal of an Appeal

On appeal, the defendant averred that the trial court departed from an essential requirement of law in dismissing his appeal. The court explained that a court departs from an essential requirement of law when it disregards a clearly defined legal principle, thereby resulting in a miscarriage of justice. On review, the court agreed with the defendant, noting that under Florida law, it was well established that dismissing an appeal is an extreme penalty that is only to be imposed where there is a flagrant violation of the rules of appellate procedure.

The court stated that a dismissal of an appeal was not justified unless the defendant was warned his case may be dismissed if he did not file his brief in a timely manner. Even where a defendant is warned of possible dismissal, as in the subject case, dismissals have been overturned where a delay in filing the brief was not due to misconduct or intentional disregard of the rules. The court found that the defendant’s delay in filing the brief was not due to misconduct, and his attorney was not unreasonable in requesting an extension for time to file the brief. Therefore, the court quashed the trial court order and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Meet with a Trusted Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss your Case

If you live in Sarasota and are currently facing criminal charges, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Sarasota criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is Sarasota criminal defense attorney with the knowledge and experience needed to assist you in seeking a favorable legal result under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a confidential and free meeting.

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