The Florida Public Records Law states that any person can inspect and copy public records. An individual does not need to state a purpose or special interest to obtain access to a record and does not need to present identification.
Steps to take when making a record request:
1. Identify the agency holding the record and the person within that agency who is the records custodian.
2. Citizens can call or write the agency for this information.
3. When writing your request, make it as specific as possible. Include the following:
4. Although a verbal request is sufficient, a written request is more effective.
5. Keep copies of correspondences.
6. When a portion of the material requested is exempt, a records custodian must provide the non-exempt material. Once the identifying information is removed, the report must be released.
7. Be aware that agencies may charge only the cost of actual duplication of the record if requesting a copy. Higher fees may be charged for certain records, especially those requests that require extensive assistance.
All government records, regardless of whether they are in final form, are open for public inspection unless the Legislature has exempted them from disclosure.
Section 119.011(12), Florida Statutes, defines public record as:
"all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency."
If you reasonably believe there has been a violation, you can seek an order from the circuit court to force disclosure.
Penalties for the agency includes: fines, injunctive relief and, in extreme cases, incarceration of offenders
If the court finds there was a
violation, you are entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees from
the agency. However, if the court finds that the suit was filed in bad faith
or on frivolous grounds, the agency may recover reasonable attorney’s fees from you.
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