County Criminal Court
Florida County Courts have jurisdiction over criminal traffic cases and misdemeanor criminal cases. A misdemeanor is any criminal offense punishable by imprisonment in a county correctional facility for less than one year. The County Criminal Division has four County Judges in Sarasota County.
Circuit Criminal Court
Florida Circuit Criminal Courts have jurisdiction in all criminal felonies. Felonies are criminal offenses that are punishable by imprisonment in a state penitentiary or death. The 12th Circuit Criminal Division has four Circuit Judges in Sarasota County.
Misdemeanor (including criminal traffic and ordinances)
Misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by less than one year in the county jail. Misdemeanors are handled in County Court.
If you were cited or arrested for a misdemeanor South of Stickney Point Road and you are not in jail, your case will be assigned to the South County Courthouse in Venice. If you were arrested south of Stickney Point Road and you remain in jail because you cannot bond, your case will be assigned by the letter of your last name at the North County Courthouse (Also known as the Silvertooth Judicial Center located at 2002 Ringling Boulevard in Sarasota).
Division A of County Court handles cases with last names starting with D, F, H, M, N and Z
Division B of County Court handles cases with last names starting with E, I, J, K, L, O, W, & T
Division C of County Court handles cases with last names starting with A, B, P, Q, R, U, & X
Division D of County Court handles cases with last names starting with C, G, S, V, & Y
Felony (including capital felonies)
Felony cases involve crimes that are punishable by more than one year of incarceration in the Florida Department of Corrections (prison). Felonies are handled in Circuit Court.
All felony cases are heard in the North County Courthouse. This is true even if you were arrested in South County. The cases are assigned by letter of the last name.
Felony Division II handles cases with last names starting with A, B, C, D, F, & G
Felony Division IV handles cases with last names starting with E, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, & O
Felony Division VI handles cases with last names starting with P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, & Z
Juvenile cases are criminal cases allegedly committed by a person under 18 years of age at the time of the offense. Juvenile cases can be felonies or misdemeanors. Criminal traffic cases are the exception to the rule. If a juvenile commits a criminal traffic offense, that case is handled in County Court no matter the age of the driver.
Juvenile cases are handled in the Circuit Court by a Circuit judge. Juvenile cases are confidential and are handled differently than the cases in the adult system. Juveniles are not sent to jail or prison for their offenses as long as they are handled in juvenile court. The goal of the juvenile system is to do what is in the best interest of the child as opposed to the criminal system where the goal is punishment.
The juvenile proceedings make up their own division within the Circuit Court system. This division is separate from the Circuit Criminal system. Because all matters pertaining to the juvenile are held in the same court, the Judge has a better idea of the child’s needs and the family situation. This allows for better resolutions in the child’s interest.