Clerk Stacy Butterfield, Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller, announces the release of a new program that allows individuals to receive alerts about upcoming criminal court dates via text and/or email.
The new system is called E-Notify, and registration is available at enotify.flcourts.org.
“Technology optimization remains one of my main priorities,” Clerk Butterfield said. “Technology enhances our operations, but most importantly, it makes our customers’ lives easier and provides them with more convenient access to our services. I am thrilled to see E-Notify go statewide this year. I think it is an incredibly helpful tool; any interested parties—defendants, attorneys, victims, advocates, etc.—can sign up to receive reminders and stay current with the cases they choose to follow.”
Users who sign up for the service choose how they will get alerts – by email and/or text – and timing of the reminders, choosing any combination of 14-day, 7-day, or day-ahead notifications. There is no limit to the number of cases users can sign up to get notifications on.
To register, users will provide basic information like name, email address and phone number. They will also need the 20-character case number for each case they wish to receive alerts on.
There are several ways that users can find case numbers. On the E-Notify site, users can search by the defendant’s name and date of birth. Numbers can also be found on court notifications and on the Polk County Clerk website via Polk Records Online (PRO). The date of birth is not needed when using PRO.
E-Notify was developed collaboratively by the state’s clerks of court and the state courts system. It is designed specifically to fulfill the legislature’s direction to provide alerts to defendants in criminal cases. The system, however, is not limited to defendants and offers a valuable resource to others who may wish to be notified of case events.
Similar programs elsewhere have shown the notification system is effective.
Studies in jurisdictions where electronic alerts have been implemented show significant reductions in “failures to appear,” or instances in which defendants miss their court events. A text-alert program in New York City both reminded defendants of their court appearances but also provided information on the consequence of failing to show up.
Failure to appear for a court event can result in a warrant being issued for the arrest of a defendant. Fewer defendants with missed court dates will reduce negative consequences both for the individuals and associated costs to the justice system.
To learn more about the service and to register, visit enotify.flcourts.org.