Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Justice Administrative Commission

State Attorneys

What is the purpose of the state attorneys?

Under the Florida constitution, the state attorney serves as the prosecutor, representing the people in criminal courts throughout the circuit. State attorneys review criminal investigations and complaints submitted by law enforcement agencies and others, file formal charges supported by the law and the evidence, and then present these cases in court.

How are criminal cases generated?

State attorneys are required to represent the State of Florida in the prosecution of all criminal cases arising out of their respective circuits. A criminal case may be generated by several different events.
  • Arrest of An Offender. A state attorney must review every arrest for violations of state law that occurs in his respective circuit.  State attorneys rely on law enforcement to prepare arrest reports, victim affidavits, and witness statements; and to secure the evidence needed to prove each and every element of the offenses charged. Once the State Attorney has reviewed all supporting documents and sworn testimony, a decision is made to either file charges, decline to file any charges, file a change of charge, present the case to the Grand Jury or require additional investigation. 
  • Executive Assignments. A state attorney receives assignments to investigate and prosecute cases outside the circuit when the governor's office orders an assignment. This occurs when another circuit has a conflict and requests the Governor to re-assign the prosecution. 
  • Grand Jury Investigations. The function of the grand jury in criminal matters is to investigate and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify an indictment against an accused. The grand jury must ascertain whether there is probable cause that a crime has been committed by the person so accused. If it determines that the evidence is sufficient to constitute probable cause, the grand jury issues an indictment on which the accused will be put on trial.
  • Non-Arrest Walk-In Complaints. State attorneys receive complaints and reports of criminal activity from various sources, including law enforcement and the general public. Each one of these complaints must be investigated to determine whether a crime has occurred and who has committed the crime. These investigations take place prior to the arrest of the accused. The investigation may include substantial witness statements, search warrants, subpoenas, and more. When the state attorney's office has completed its investigation, a decision is made to either file charges or decline to file any charges. If charges are filed, an arrest warrant or issue summons must be prepared to bring the accused into custody.
  • State Attorney-Initiated Investigations. A state attorney may initiate an investigation if there is reason to believe a crime has occurred and an investigation is warranted. 

How many state attorneys are there?

There are 20 state attorneys who practice in 20 circuit courts and 67 county courts.

How long is a state attorney's term?

State attorneys are elected to four-year terms under Article V, Section 17, Constitution of the State of Florida.

What is the yearly workload of state attorneys?

In Fiscal Year 2019-20, state attorneys received referrals for 336,811 felony cases, 532,232 misdemeanor cases, and 69,204 juvenile cases.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2021-22
Fund Dollars Positions
STATE ATTORNEYS
01-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
18,517,884
230.00
02-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
11,057,114
114.00
03-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
6,315,302
70.00
04-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - FOURTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
31,512,361
364.00
05-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
22,753,785
244.00
06-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
40,303,425
463.00
07-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
20,192,216
238.00
08-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - EIGHTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
11,354,797
135.00
09-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - NINTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
32,734,695
385.50
10-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - TENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
21,865,384
234.00
11-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
94,692,495
1,268.00
12-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - TWELFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
16,849,160
192.00
13-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
29,795,274
332.00
14-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
10,698,365
122.00
15-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
28,996,081
333.00
16-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
5,503,403
62.00
17-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - SEVENTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
43,674,778
511.50
18-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
23,971,831
285.00
19-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - NINETEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
14,059,139
165.00
20-PROGRAM: STATE ATTORNEYS - TWENTIETH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
25,966,413
303.00
TOTAL
510,813,902
6,051.00

Updates

Combating Public Disorder.  Chapter 2021-6, Laws of Florida, addresses acts of public disorder and responses to public disorder as follows.

  • Codifies the elements of the first degree misdemeanor offense of affray, which a person commits if he or she engages, by mutual consent, in fighting with another person in a public place to the terror of the people.
  • Defines the third degree felony offense of riot, which a person commits if he or she willfully participates in a violent public disturbance involving an assembly of three or more persons, acting with a common intent to assist each other in violent and disorderly conduct, resulting in injury to another person, damage to property, or imminent danger of injury to another person or damage to property.
  • Creates the second degree felony offense of aggravated rioting, which a person commits, if, in the course of committing a riot, he or she:
    • participates with 25 or more persons;
    • causes great bodily harm to a person not participating in the riot;
    • causes property damage in excess of $5,000;
    • displays, uses, threatens to use, or attempts to use a deadly weapon; or
    • by force, threat of force, endangers the safe movement of a vehicle traveling on a public street, highway, or road.
  • Defines the third degree felony offense of inciting a riot, which a person commits when he or she willfully incites another person to participate in a riot, resulting in a riot or imminent danger of a riot.
  • Creates the second degree felony offense of aggravated inciting a riot, which a person commits if he or she:
    • incites a riot resulting in great bodily harm to another person not participating in the riot;
    • incites a riot resulting in property damage in excess of $5,000; or
    • supplies a deadly weapon to another person or teaches another person to prepare a deadly weapon with intent that the deadly weapon be used in a riot for an unlawful purpose.
  • Creates the first degree misdemeanor offense of mob intimidation, which is committed when a person, assembled with two or more other persons and acting with a common intent, uses force or threatens to use imminent force, to compel or induce, or attempt to compel or induce, another person to do or refrain from doing any act or to assume, abandon, or maintain a particular viewpoint against his or her will.
  • Provides for a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for battery on a law enforcement officer if committed in furtherance of a riot or aggravated riot.
  • Requires a person arrested for unlawful assembly, riot, and certain offenses committed in furtherance of a riot or aggravated riot, to be held in jail until he or she appears for a first appearance hearing and a court determines bond.
  • Specifies that these public disorder offenses do not prohibit constitutionally protected activity such as peaceful protest. 

In addition, the law creates a budget appeal process to challenge reductions in municipal law enforcement agencies' budgets similar to the process available to a county sheriff. If a municipality's tentative budget contains a funding reduction to the operating budget of a law enforcement agency, the state attorney for the judicial circuit in which the municipality is located or a member of the governing body of the municipality who objects to the funding reduction may file an appeal within 30 days of the date the tentative budget is posted on the municipality's website. The law requires a municipality to reply to the appeal within five working days of receipt. The Executive Office of the Governor is required to conduct a hearing on the appeal and make a recommendation to the Administration Commission (the Governor and the Cabinet) which may approve, amend, or modify the municipal law enforcement budget.

The law also provides that in a civil action for damages for personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage, it is an affirmative defense that such action arose from an injury or damage sustained by a participant acting in furtherance of a riot. The affirmative defense must be established by evidence that the participant has been convicted of a riot or an aggravated riot, or by proof of the commission of such a crime by a preponderance of the evidence. 

The law contains multiple additional provisions.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Due Process Services, Report 19-18, December 2019
Direct File of Children to Adult Court Is Decreasing; Better Data Needed to Assess Sanctions, Report 17-06, March 2017

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
The Auditor General reports on state attorney's operations are available on its website.

Websites of Interest
Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association
Florida State Courts
U.S. Department of Justice

Performance Information


Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Article V, Section 17, Constitution of the State of Florida, and Ch. 27, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Garett Berman, Executive Director, Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Inc., 850-922-0467

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