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The Florida Senate

2005 Florida Statutes

Legal assistance; lien for payment of attorney's fees or costs.
Section 938.29, Florida Statutes 2005

938.29  Legal assistance; lien for payment of attorney's fees or costs.--

(1)(a)  A defendant determined to be guilty of a criminal act by a court or jury or through a plea of guilty or nolo contendere and who has received the assistance of the public defender's office, a special assistant public defender, or a conflict attorney shall be liable for payment of attorney's fees and costs. The court shall determine the amount of the obligation. Such costs shall include, but not be limited to, the cost of depositions; cost of transcripts of depositions, including the cost of defendant's copy, which transcripts are certified by the defendant's attorney as having served a useful purpose in the disposition of the case; investigative costs; witness fees; the cost of psychiatric examinations; or other reasonable costs specially incurred by the state and the clerk of court for the defense of the defendant in criminal prosecutions. Costs shall not include expenses inherent in providing a constitutionally guaranteed jury trial or expenditures in connection with the maintenance and operation of government agencies that must be made by the public irrespective of specific violations of law. Any costs assessed pursuant to this paragraph shall be reduced by any amount assessed against a defendant pursuant to s. 938.05

(b)  Upon entering a judgment of conviction, the defendant shall be liable to pay the costs in full after the judgment of conviction becomes final.

(c)  The defendant shall pay the application fee under s. 27.52(2)(a) and attorney's fees and costs in full or in installments, at the time or times specified. The court may order payment of the assessed application fee and attorney's fees and costs as a condition of probation, of suspension of sentence, or of withholding the imposition of sentence. Attorney's fees and costs collected under this section shall be deposited into the General Revenue Fund.

(2)(a)  There is created in the name of the state a lien, enforceable as hereinafter provided, upon all the property, both real and personal, of any person who:

1.  Has received any assistance from any public defender of the state, from any special assistant public defender, or from any conflict attorney; or

2.  Is a parent of an accused minor or an accused adult tax-dependent person who is being, or has been, represented by any public defender of the state, by any special assistant public defender, or by a conflict attorney.

Such lien constitutes a claim against the defendant-recipient or parent and his or her estate, enforceable according to law.

(b)  A judgment showing the name and residence of the defendant-recipient or parent shall be recorded in the public record, without cost, by the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the defendant-recipient or parent resides and in each county in which such defendant-recipient or parent then owns or later acquires any property. Such judgments shall be enforced on behalf of the state by the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which assistance was rendered.

(3)  The clerk of the circuit court within the county wherein the defendant-recipient was tried or received the services of a public defender, special assistant public defender, or appointed private legal counsel shall enforce, satisfy, compromise, settle, subordinate, release, or otherwise dispose of any debt or lien imposed under this section. A defendant-recipient or parent, liable to pay attorney's fees or costs and who is not in willful default in the payment thereof, may, at any time, petition the court which entered the order for deferral of the payment of attorney's fees or costs or of any unpaid portion thereof.

(4)  No lien thus created shall be foreclosed upon the homestead of such defendant-recipient or parent, nor shall any defendant-recipient or parent liable for payment of attorney's fees or costs be denied any of the protections afforded any other civil judgment debtor.

(5)  The court having jurisdiction of the defendant-recipient shall, at such stage of the proceedings as the court may deem appropriate, determine the value of the services of the public defender, special assistant public defender, or appointed private legal counsel and costs, at which time the defendant-recipient or parent, after adequate notice thereof, shall have opportunity to be heard and offer objection to the determination, and to be represented by counsel, with due opportunity to exercise and be accorded the procedures and rights provided in the laws and court rules pertaining to civil cases at law.

History.--s. 3, ch. 63-410; s. 7, ch. 67-539; s. 1, ch. 72-41; s. 1, ch. 77-264; s. 2, ch. 77-378; s. 10, ch. 79-400; s. 8, ch. 80-376; s. 1, ch. 83-256; s. 2, ch. 89-129; s. 142, ch. 95-147; s. 2, ch. 96-232; s. 7, ch. 97-107; s. 22, ch. 97-271; s. 128, ch. 2003-402; s. 86, ch. 2004-265; s. 61, ch. 2005-236.

Note.--Former s. 27.56.