OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Office of the Attorney General (Department of Legal Affairs)

Criminal and Civil Litigation

What is the purpose of the program?

The Office of the Attorney General provides representation for the state in criminal and civil litigation through the Criminal Appellate Division and the General Civil Litigation Division.  Additionally, the Solicitor General represents the State of Florida in litigation affecting the powers, duties, and responsibilities of all branches of government.
  • Criminal Appellate Division's Criminal Appeals Bureau represents the state in all criminal appeals heard in this state and federal courts except appeals of capital murder cases, which are handled by the Capital Appeals Bureau.
  • General Civil Litigation Division provides statewide representation on behalf of the state, its agencies, officers, employees, and agents at the trial and appellate levels. The division handles cases involving constitutional challenges to statutes, civil rights, employment discrimination, torts, contract disputes, eminent domain, tax, child support and paternity, ethics, administrative law, prisoner litigation, declaratory judgment, child dependency, charitable trusts, and class action suits.
  • The Solicitor General is appointed by the Attorney General to oversee civil appeals involving the state, and has the authority to decide whether the state should appeal a case to the Florida Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court, or the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
  • The Office of the Attorney General conducts additional criminal and civil litigation activities, which include enforcing state and federal antitrust laws through the Antitrust Division, protecting consumers from fraud and other financial exploitation through the Consumer Protection Division, enforcing civil rights laws through the Office of Civil Rights, investigating fraud committed upon the Medicaid Program by the Medical Fraud Control Unit, and administering Lemon Law Arbitration to help consumers avoid lengthy and costly litigation for motor vehicle warranty disputes.

What does the Criminal Appellate Division do?

The Criminal Appellate Division consists of the five regional Criminal Appeals Bureaus and one statewide Capital Appeals Bureau, which represent the state in all appellate prosecutions. The Criminal Appeals Bureaus defend judgments and sentences that are appealed to the District Courts of Appeal and litigate all state cases that have been filed in the federal district courts and United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit seeking federal constitutional relief. The Capital Appeals Bureau handles appeals of capital murder cases where defendants have committed first degree murder and the death sentence has been imposed. These cases are automatically appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

What does the General Civil Litigation Division do?

The goals of the division are to provide quality legal representation on behalf of the state in civil litigation and to produce cost savings to the state by reducing reliance on private legal services through its bureaus.
  • Administrative Law serves as counsel to professional licensure and disciplinary boards.
  • Child Support Enforcement represents the Department of Revenue in 12 of Florida's 67 counties in cases establishing and enforcing child support orders. The bureau provides legal services in cases involving children who reside in Florida, as well as children outside of the state.
  • Children's Legal Services is charged with litigating child abuse, abandonment, and neglect cases for the Department of Children and Families in Broward and Hillsborough counties. The bureau is also responsible for litigating termination of parental rights petitions to establish permanency for children who have been long-time sufferers of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
  • Complex Litigation handles high-visibility state and federal litigation involving the environment, Native American gaming, tobacco, education, election laws, inverse condemnation, and constitutional challenges to both the Florida Statutes and Florida constitutional amendments.
  • Corrections Litigation represents the state and its employees in civil actions brought by inmates in state correctional institutions.
  • Eminent Domain provides legal resources to governmental agencies exercising the power of eminent domain to acquire property for public use.
  • Employment Litigation defends state agencies in suits brought under any of the various federal and state employment laws.
  • Ethics assists the Florida Commission on Ethics by serving as advocates.The advocate makes a recommendation as to whether an ethics case should go forward. If the case goes forward, the advocate conducts the prosecution through an administrative hearing.
  • The Civil Litigation Bureaus in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach provide legal services for state agencies, state officials, and judges in the areas of corrections, employment, tort, and state programs. In addition, the units defend the presumptive constitutionality of state statutes and handle civil forfeiture and civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act actions in conjunction with Statewide Prosecution's criminal cases. The bureaus also handle most of their own appeals in both federal and state appellate courts.
  • Revenue Litigation enforces and defends tax assessments issued by the Department of Revenue. In addition, this bureau represents the Department of Revenue in litigation involving claims for refunds of taxes.
  • State Programs defends the state in a wide variety of actions in both state and federal court, at the trial and appellate levels. The bureau is also charged with representing the state in class action civil rights lawsuits filed against state programs or agencies.
  • Tort Litigation provides legal defense to state agencies and employees. Litigation engaged in by this bureau regularly involves the interpretation and application of Florida's limited waiver of sovereign immunity state pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes.

What does the Solicitor General do?

The Solicitor General directs, coordinates, and represents the state in cases of constitutional importance before the U.S. and Florida Supreme Courts, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and Florida's District Courts of Appeal.  The Solicitor General also prepares amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in support of state policy goals in state and federal appellate court cases and advises the Attorney General on legal and policy issues affecting the state.

What other programs in the Office of the Attorney General conduct civil and criminal protection and enforcement activities?

There are several additional divisions and programs that conduct investigations, mediation, enforcement, and litigation activities in a variety of areas.
  • Antitrust Unit initiates civil investigations or formal legal proceedings regarding antitrust violations, as authorized by federal and state law. Antitrust violations include price fixing, bid rigging, market or contract allocation, and monopoly-related actions.
  • Consumer Protection Division is charged with protecting consumers from fraud and other financial exploitation. The division takes legal action against entities that commit unfair trade practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce. The division targets those who prey on customers primarily through the enforcement of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The division is also responsible for enforcement of the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act. The division investigates entities with multi-circuit activities, as the state attorney has primary jurisdiction for single circuit activity. In addition, the division participates in investigations of national companies in cooperation with other states and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Lemon Law Arbitration is responsible for enforcing Florida's Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, referred to as the Lemon Law. The purpose of the law is to help consumers avoid lengthy and costly litigation by providing fast and fair resolution of motor vehicle warranty disputes.
  • Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates and prosecutes fraud involving providers that intentionally defraud the state's Medicaid program. The unit also investigates the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of residents of long-term care facilities who are elderly, ill, and/or mentally or physically disabled.
  • Office of Civil Rights enforces civil rights laws on behalf of the state through investigation, litigation, education, outreach and legislative proposals. Section 760.01, Florida Statutes, protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of a person's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status. The office works with the Florida Commission on Human Relations to enforce provisions of the Florida Fair Housing Act. The office also compiles the state's annual Hate Crime Report.

How are the Criminal Appellate Division and the General Civil Litigation Division performing?

The department reported that it handled 1,359 briefs, state and federal court responses, and oral arguments in capital cases; and 23,318 briefs, state and federal court responses, and oral arguments in non-capital cases in Fiscal Year 2018-19. These numbers exceeded the standards set for the department. The department reported 51,626 active child support enforcement cases in Fiscal Year 2018-19, below the standard of 65,000 cases.

How is the Solicitor General's office performing?

The department reported 155 active Solicitor General cases, which is less than the approved standard of 390. However, the department noted that using the number of cases as a performance measure does not account for the significance and importance of specific individual cases.

How did other programs charged with conducting civil and criminal protection and enforcement activities perform?

The department reported that 97% of lemon law cases in Fiscal Year 2018-19 were resolved within one year, which exceeds the standard of 95%. The department also reported 121 active antitrust cases, more than the standard of 62 cases. In addition the department reported 1,359 active Medicaid fraud cases, above the standard of 900 active cases.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2020-21
Fund Salary Rate/ Position General Revenue Trust Funds
SALARY RATE
POSITIONS
SALARIES AND BENEFITS
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM CRIMES COMPENSATION TRUST FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL AFFAIRS REVOLVING TRUST FUND
FROM MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTY TRUST FUND
FROM OPERATING TRUST FUND
OTHER PERSONAL SERVICES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
FROM MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTY TRUST FUND
EXPENSES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
FROM MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTY TRUST FUND
FROM OPERATING TRUST FUND
OPERATING CAPITAL OUTLAY
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
FROM MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTY TRUST FUND
LUMP SUM
ATTORNEY GENERAL RESERVE POSITIONS FOR AGENCY CONTRACTS
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
ACQUISITION OF MOTOR VEHICLES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM OPERATING TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
MEDICAID FRAUD INFORMANT REWARDS
FROM OPERATING TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
ANTITRUST INVESTIGATIONS
FROM LEGAL AFFAIRS REVOLVING TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
CONTRACTED SERVICES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
FROM MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTY TRUST FUND
FROM OPERATING TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
CONSUMER PROTECTION LITIGATION
FROM LEGAL AFFAIRS REVOLVING TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
LITIGATION EXPENSES
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
RISK MANAGEMENT INSURANCE
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL AFFAIRS REVOLVING TRUST FUND
FROM MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTY TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
SALARY INCENTIVE PAYMENTS
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
LEASE OR LEASE-PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
TRANSFER TO DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES - HUMAN RESOURCES SERVICES PURCHASED PER STATEWIDE CONTRACT
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL AFFAIRS REVOLVING TRUST FUND
FROM MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTY TRUST FUND
FROM OPERATING TRUST FUND
DATA PROCESSING SERVICES
OTHER DATA PROCESSING SERVICES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM FEDERAL GRANTS TRUST FUND
FROM LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND
DATA PROCESSING SERVICES
NORTHWEST REGIONAL DATA CENTER (NWRDC)
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
TOTAL
29,492,255
75,611,999

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
Annual Report 2017-2018: A Fiscal Year in Review, Florida Commission on Human Relations.
Hate Crimes in Florida, 2018, Office of the Attorney General.
The Auditor General reports on department operations are available on its website.
Websites of Interest
Office of the Attorney General, Addresses and Phone Numbers
National Association of Attorneys General
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 4(b), Constitution of the State of Florida; and Chs16, 119, 501, 542, 760, and 895, and ss. 16.57, 16.59, 20.21(4), 68.081, 286.011, 409.920(9), 455.221, 681.102 through 681.104, 768.28, 812.035, and 921.141(4), Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Office of Attorney General, 850-414-3300, 850-414-3990 (Citizens Services), or 1-866-966-7226

Website