Florida's Judicial System
There are many different courts that make up Florida's judicial system. Each of them have jurisdiction over specific types of cases. It's important to understand where your case should be filed. Although this page will give you a brief overview, it is by no means intended to cover all of the types of cases that each court hears.
Florida's County Courts have jurisdiction over civil cases with an amount in controversy of $30,000 and under (which would include the special category of small claims court for claims of $8,000 and under. Small Claims court has with special rules to expedite and make cases more cost efficient, $8,000). In addition to the aforementioned cases, the County Courts handle eviction, misdemeanor criminal cases, and traffic offenses.
Florida has 20 different Circuit Courts, most of which encompass several counties. The Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over cases where the amount in controversy is over $30,000. They also hear a majority of the cases that don't fall under the jurisdiction of the County Courts. These types of cases include felony criminal cases, domestic relations cases, and juvenile cases. Probate court is also heard at the Circuit Court level. The Circuit Court also may hear certain appeals from the County Courts, although other cases are appealable directly to the District Courts of Appeal.
District Courts of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court
Florida has five (5) District Courts of Appeal. Generally, they hear appeals from trial courts (although there are times when appeals are taken directly to the Supreme Court or to the Circuit Court). Each of the five District Courts of Appeal are separate from each other and encompass individual Circuit Courts. It is important to know which District Court of Appeal you are in since its decisions are binding on its Circuit Courts, but only persuasive authority for Circuit Courts in other District Court of Appeals.
The Florida Supreme Court is the highest court in the State of Florida. Generally (there are always exceptions), the Court's review is discretionary. They often hear cases where the District Courts of Appeal disagree on an issue as well as where there is an interpretation of the Constitution
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