2022 Florida Statutes< Back to Statute Search
Title V JUDICIAL BRANCH
Chapter 27 STATE ATTORNEYS; PUBLIC DEFENDERS; RELATED OFFICES
SECTION 51Duties of public defender.
27.51 Duties of public defender.—
(1) The public defender shall represent, without additional compensation, any person determined to be indigent under s. 27.52 and:
(a) Under arrest for, or charged with, a felony;
(b) Under arrest for, or charged with:
1. A misdemeanor authorized for prosecution by the state attorney;
2. A violation of chapter 316 punishable by imprisonment;
3. Criminal contempt; or
4. A violation of a special law or county or municipal ordinance ancillary to a state charge, or if not ancillary to a state charge, only if the public defender contracts with the county or municipality to provide representation pursuant to ss. 27.54 and 125.69.
The public defender shall not provide representation pursuant to this paragraph if the court, prior to trial, files in the cause an order of no imprisonment as provided in s. 27.512;
(c) Alleged to be a delinquent child pursuant to a petition filed before a circuit court;
(d) Sought by petition filed in such court to be involuntarily placed as a mentally ill person under part I of chapter 394, involuntarily committed as a sexually violent predator under part V of chapter 394, or involuntarily admitted to residential services as a person with developmental disabilities under chapter 393. A public defender shall not represent any plaintiff in a civil action brought under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or the federal statutes, or represent a petitioner in a rule challenge under chapter 120, unless specifically authorized by statute;
(e) Convicted and sentenced to death, for purposes of handling an appeal to the Supreme Court; or
(f) Is appealing a matter in a case arising under paragraphs (a)-(d).
(2) The court may not appoint the public defender to represent, even on a temporary basis, any person who is not indigent. If a defendant has retained private counsel, the court may not appoint the public defender to represent that defendant simultaneously on the same case. The court, however, may appoint private counsel in capital cases as provided in ss. 27.40 and 27.5303.
(3) Each public defender shall serve on a full-time basis and is prohibited from engaging in the private practice of law while holding office. Assistant public defenders shall give priority and preference to their duties as assistant public defenders and shall not otherwise engage in the practice of criminal law.
(4) The public defender for the judicial circuit specified in this subsection shall, after the record on appeal is transmitted to the appellate court by the office of the public defender which handled the trial and if requested by any public defender within the indicated appellate district, handle all circuit court and county court appeals within the state courts system and any authorized appeals to the federal courts required of the official making such request:
(a) Public defender of the second judicial circuit, on behalf of any public defender within the district comprising the First District Court of Appeal.
(b) Public defender of the tenth judicial circuit, on behalf of any public defender within the districts comprising the Second District Court of Appeal and Sixth District Court of Appeal.
(c) Public defender of the eleventh judicial circuit, on behalf of any public defender within the district comprising the Third District Court of Appeal.
(d) Public defender of the fifteenth judicial circuit, on behalf of any public defender within the district comprising the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
(e) Public defender of the seventh judicial circuit, on behalf of any public defender within the district comprising the Fifth District Court of Appeal.
(5)(a) When direct appellate proceedings prosecuted by a public defender on behalf of an accused and challenging a judgment of conviction and sentence of death terminate in an affirmance of such conviction and sentence, whether by the Florida Supreme Court or by the United States Supreme Court or by expiration of any deadline for filing such appeal in a state or federal court, the public defender shall notify the accused of his or her rights pursuant to Rule 3.851, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, including any time limits pertinent thereto, and shall advise such person that representation in any collateral proceedings is the responsibility of the capital collateral regional counsel. The public defender shall then forward all original files on the matter to the capital collateral regional counsel, retaining such copies for his or her files as may be desired.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that any public defender representing an inmate in any collateral proceedings in any court on June 24, 1985, shall continue representation of that inmate in all postconviction proceedings unless relieved of responsibility from further representation by the court.
(6) A sum shall be appropriated to the public defender of each judicial circuit enumerated in subsection (4) for the employment of assistant public defenders and clerical employees and the payment of expenses incurred in cases on appeal.
History.—s. 2, ch. 63-409; s. 1, ch. 67-539; ss. 19, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 71-28; s. 1, ch. 72-327; s. 1, ch. 72-722; s. 1, ch. 73-216; s. 4, ch. 73-334; s. 3, ch. 77-147; s. 1, ch. 79-588; s. 2, ch. 80-376; ss. 2, 6, ch. 85-332; s. 11, ch. 87-133; s. 1, ch. 89-308; s. 8, ch. 91-45; s. 138, ch. 95-147; s. 15, ch. 95-195; s. 4, ch. 96-232; s. 2, ch. 97-107; s. 2, ch. 99-222; s. 12, ch. 2000-3; s. 15, ch. 2003-402; s. 8, ch. 2004-265; s. 4, ch. 2006-1; s. 1, ch. 2014-59; s. 4, ch. 2020-61; s. 1, ch. 2021-18; s. 1, ch. 2022-163.