125.69 Penalties; enforcement by code inspectors.—
(1) Violations of county ordinances shall be prosecuted in the same manner as misdemeanors are prosecuted. Such violations shall be prosecuted in the name of the state in a court having jurisdiction of misdemeanors by the prosecuting attorney thereof and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed 60 days or by both such fine and imprisonment. However, a county may specify, by ordinance, a violation of a county ordinance which is punishable by a fine in an amount exceeding $500, but not exceeding $2,000 a day, if the county must have authority to punish a violation of that ordinance by a fine in an amount greater than $500 in order for the county to carry out a federally mandated program. A county may also specify, by ordinance, that a violation of any provision of a county ordinance imposing standards of conduct and disclosure requirements as provided in s. 112.326 is punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or a term of imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed 1 year.
(2) Each county is authorized and required to pay any attorney appointed by the court to represent a defendant charged with a criminal violation of a special law or county ordinance not ancillary to a state charge if the defendant is indigent and otherwise entitled to court-appointed counsel under the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Florida. In these cases, the court shall appoint counsel to represent the defendant in accordance with s. 27.40, and shall order the county to pay the reasonable attorney’s fees, costs, and related expenses of the defense. The county may contract with the public defender or the office of criminal conflict and civil regional counsel for the judicial circuit in which the county is located to serve as court-appointed counsel pursuant to s. 27.54.
(3) If the county is the prevailing party, the county may recover the court fees and costs paid by it and the fees and expenses paid to court-appointed counsel as part of its judgment. The state shall bear no expense of actions brought under this section except those that it would bear in an ordinary civil action between private parties in county court.
(4) The board of county commissioners of each county may designate its agents or employees as code inspectors whose duty it is to assure code compliance. Any person designated as a code inspector may issue citations for violations of county codes and ordinances, respectively, or subsequent amendments thereto, when such code inspector has actual knowledge that a violation has been committed.
(a) Prior to issuing a citation, a code inspector shall provide notice to the violator that the violator has committed a violation of a code or ordinance and shall establish a reasonable time period within which the violator must correct the violation. Such time period shall be no more than 30 days. If, upon personal investigation, a code inspector finds that the violator has not corrected the violation within the time period, a code inspector may issue a citation to the violator. A code inspector does not have to provide the violator with a reasonable time period to correct the violation prior to issuing a citation and may immediately issue a citation if the code inspector has reason to believe that the violation presents a serious threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, or if the violation is irreparable or irreversible.
(b) A citation issued by a code inspector shall state the date and time of issuance, name and address of the person in violation, date of the violation, section of the codes or ordinances, or subsequent amendments thereto, violated, name of the code inspector, and date and time when the violator shall appear in county court.
(c) If a repeat violation is found subsequent to the issuance of a citation, the code inspector is not required to give the violator a reasonable time to correct the violation and may immediately issue a citation. For purposes of this subsection, the term “repeat violation” means a violation of a provision of a code or ordinance by a person who has previously been found to have violated the same provision within 5 years prior to the violation, notwithstanding the violations occurred at different locations.
(d) If the owner of property which is subject to an enforcement proceeding before county court transfers ownership of such property between the time the initial citation or citations are issued and the date the violator has been summoned to appear in county court, such owner shall:
1. Disclose, in writing, the existence and the nature of the proceeding to the prospective transferee.
2. Deliver to the prospective transferee a copy of the pleadings, notices, and other materials relating to the county court proceeding received by the transferor.
3. Disclose, in writing, to the prospective transferee that the new owner will be responsible for compliance with the applicable code and with orders issued in the county court proceeding.
4. File a notice with the code enforcement official of the transfer of the property, with the identity and address of the new owner and copies of the disclosures made to the new owner, within 5 days after the date of the transfer.
A failure to make the disclosure described in subparagraphs 1., 2., and 3. before the transfer creates a rebuttable presumption of fraud. If the property is transferred before the date the violator has been summoned to appear in county court, the proceeding shall not be dismissed but the new owner will be substituted as the party of record and thereafter provided a reasonable period of time to correct the violation before the continuation of proceedings in county court.
(e) If the code inspector has reason to believe a violation or the condition causing the violation presents a serious threat to the public health, safety, and welfare or if the violation is irreparable or irreversible in nature, or if after attempts under this section to bring a repeat violation into compliance with a provision of a code or ordinance prove unsuccessful, the local governing body may make all reasonable repairs which are required to bring the property into compliance and charge the owner with the reasonable cost of the repairs along with the fine imposed pursuant to this section. Making such repairs does not create a continuing obligation on the part of the local governing body to make further repairs or to maintain the property and does not create any liability against the local governing body for any damages to the property if such repairs were completed in good faith.
(f) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to authorize any person designated as a code inspector to perform any function or duties of a law enforcement officer other than as specified in this subsection. A code inspector shall not make physical arrests or take any person into custody and shall be exempt from requirements relating to the Special Risk Class of the Florida Retirement System, bonding, and the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, as defined and provided by general law.
(g) The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the enforcement pursuant to ss. 553.79 and 553.80 of the Florida Building Code adopted pursuant to s. 553.73 as applied to construction, provided that a building permit is either not required or has been issued by the county.
(h) The provisions of this subsection may be used by a county in lieu of the provisions of part II of chapter 162.
(i) The provisions of this subsection are additional or supplemental means of enforcing county codes and ordinances. Except as provided in paragraph (h), nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a county from enforcing its codes or ordinances by any other means.
History.—s. 3, ch. 69-234; ss. 1, 2, ch. 70-452; s. 1, ch. 79-379; s. 12, ch. 89-268; s. 1, ch. 90-37; s. 1, ch. 98-287; s. 1, ch. 99-360; s. 113, ch. 2000-141; s. 35, ch. 2001-186; s. 4, ch. 2001-372; s. 80, ch. 2003-402; s. 52, ch. 2004-265; s. 26, ch. 2007-62; s. 1, ch. 2010-112.