Florida Courts Too Expensive?

Could Economic Troubles Make Florida Courts Too Expensive?

The economic crunch facing both Florida and the nation at large has led many Floridians to reconsider what once were normal expenses, as people are forced to forego a meal at a nice restaurant, have their cable television service disconnected, or perhaps let their gym membership lapse. Those who have lost jobs or face reduced work hours may even have to sacrifice their automobile or move into a smaller home or apartment. As Florida’s budget crisis worsens, however, could the next sacrifice Floridians are forced to make lie in access to the state’s court system?

Traditionally, state court workloads get heavier during economic hard times. The recent burst of the housing bubble has led to skyrocketing mortgage foreclosure claims. Tightening in the credit market has forced individuals and companies to file an increasing number of contract claims – while people tend not to fight over contracts when times are good, placing the long-term benefit to relationships over short-term financial gain, they may be compelled to do so when finances tighten. More broadly, the general economic climate has led to a considerable increase in financial crimes, such as fraud and embezzlement.

At the same time as caseloads are increasing, the budget for Florida’s judicial system is facing its own crunch. Budget shortfalls forced the state’s judiciary to cut 280 positions in the first half of 2008, amounting to almost 10 percent of the judicial workforce. (While a plan was in place to lay off an additional 250 more by October 1 of last year, this second round of cuts was averted.)

This hefty reduction in personnel among Florida’s court system highlights one of the chief distinctions between the judicial branch and other state services. Since courts are constitutionally required to offer their services, when finances are tight judges and court administrators do not have the option of cutting services, as other state administrations might. Furthermore, while the budgets for many of Florida’s administrative bodies and other organizations that receive state funding are largely tied up in programs or facilities, the vast majority of the judicial budget goes directly to personnel salaries.

By and large, salaries for judges are not affected by budget cuts. Instead, magistrates, administrators and other court staff personnel feel the brunt of the financial shortfall. If left unchecked, this can lead to a lack of hearing officers to handle child support hearings or traffic court, or cause district courts of appeal to temporarily shut down for lack of staff.
The public may feel the effects of a beleaguered court system in a couple of ways. First, staff shortages and increased workloads can work as a bottleneck in the system, causing delays in civil (and criminal) cases. A delay in civil litigation can lead to increased legal fees, lost interest on eventual judgments and other expenses that business and legal firms must bear. At least one expert has estimated that Florida’s overworked judicial system will cost the state’s economy more than $17 billion in lost economic output.

More directly, citizens may soon face an increase in court filing fees and other expenses, as local court systems struggle to keep their doors open as they receive less and less money from the state. These increased administrative costs are especially troubling to many members of the judiciary, as they understand that rising expenses may keep some potential plaintiffs from seeking their day in court, solely because they can’t afford the cost of filing their claim.

Former Prosecutor Protecting the Rights of Accident Victims Fighting for the Money You Deserve

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Case Results

Burglary of Dwelling; Petit Theft

Withhold with 6 months probation and impulse control; adjudication withheld

Grand Theft ($300-$5000)

Nolle Prosequi-Case Dropped

CT-Driving Under the Influence Car (M1)

Nolle Prosequi - Case Dropped

CT- Driving under the influence car

Nolle Prosequi - Case Dropped

Grand Theft Third Degree

Adjudicated Guilty; One day jail/one day time serve; Restitution fees; Court Cost

Petit Theft < 300

We negotiated an agreement that entailed the State dropping the charge after our client completed a Pre-Trial Diversion Program. The Charge was dropped via a Nolle Prosequi.

Unlawful Speeding

Withhold of Adjudication; No points on license; Paid fine and clerk cost; 8 hour aggressive driver class; 90 days to satisfy fine and class

Shoot/Throw Missile Into Dwell/Struct/Veh; Child Abuse; Criminal Mischief; Battery (Domestic Violence)

No Information Notice - Charges Dropped

Attach Tag/Lic Plate To Unassigned Vehicle (M2)

Nolle Prosequi - Case Dropped

DUI with Minor In Car or BAL of .20 or Higher

Pled No Contest, 1 Year Probation, 10 day Car Impound, Community Service

Motion to Modify Probation

Motion Granted in 48 hours

Petit Theft

Adjudication Withheld, 4 Months probation, Costs/Fines, Impulse Control Class

Petit Theft of $100 or MORE (M1)

Nolle Prosequi

Refuse To Submit To DUI Test (M1)

Case Dropped

Battery on Law Enforcement Officer (F3); Disorderly Conduct (M2)

Nolle Prosequi - Case Dropped


Charges Dropped

Scheme to Defraud(F3); Grand Theft(F3)

Motion to Terminate Probation Granted

Unlawful Speed


Failed to Yield at Intersection

Not Guilty

Leave Scene Of A Crash W/Property Damage (M2)

Case Dropped

Motion to Modify and Impose a Withhold of Adjudication


Attempted Burglary of a Conveyance

Charges dropped

Possession of Cannabis (less than 20 grams)

Charges dropped


Reduced to reckless driving

Possession of Alcohol Under the Age of 21

Charges dropped

Driving Under the Influence

Reduced to Reckless Driving

Violation of Probation

Case Dismissed

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