(1) In addition to any other penalty authorized by this section, chapter 120, or other law, the department may impose a fine, not to exceed $10,000 for each violation, upon a person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult, or a person who counsels another to make a false report.
(2) If the department alleges that a person has knowingly and willfully filed a false report with the central abuse hotline, the department must file a notice of intent that alleges the name, age, and address of the individual; the facts constituting the allegation that the individual made a false report; and the administrative fine that the department proposes to impose on the person. Each time that a false report is made constitutes a separate violation.
(3) The notice of intent to impose the administrative fine must be served by certified mail, return receipt requested, upon the person alleged to have filed the false report and upon the person’s legal counsel, if any.
(4) Any person alleged to have filed the false report is entitled to an administrative hearing under chapter 120 before the imposition of the fine becomes final. The person must request an administrative hearing within 60 days after receipt of the notice of intent by filing a request with the department. Failure to request an administrative hearing within 60 days after receipt of the notice of intent constitutes a waiver of the right to a hearing, making the administrative fine final.
(5) At the hearing, the department must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the person knowingly and willfully filed a false report with the central abuse hotline. The person has the right to be represented by legal counsel at the hearing.
(6) In determining the amount of fine to be imposed, if any, the following factors must be considered:
(a) The gravity of the violation, including the probability that serious physical or emotional harm to any person will result or has resulted, the severity of the actual or potential harm, and the nature of the false allegation.
(b) Actions taken by the false reporter to retract the false report as an element of mitigation, or, in contrast, to encourage an investigation on the basis of false information.
(c) Any previous false reports filed by the same individual.
(7) A decision by the department, following the administrative hearing, to impose an administrative fine for filing a false report constitutes final agency action within the meaning of chapter 120. Notice of the imposition of the administrative fine must be served upon the person and upon the person’s legal counsel, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and must state that the person may seek judicial review of the administrative fine under s. 120.68.
(8) All amounts collected under this section must be deposited into the Operations and Maintenance Trust Fund within the Adult Services Program of the department.
(9) A person who is determined to have filed a false report of abuse or neglect is not entitled to confidentiality. Subsequent to the conclusion of all administrative or other judicial proceedings concerning the filing of a false report, the name of the false reporter and the nature of the false report must be made public, pursuant to s. 119.01(1). Such information is admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding.
(10) Any person who makes a report and acts in good faith is immune from any liability under this section and continues to be entitled to have the confidentiality of his or her identity maintained.