2010 Florida Statutes
Deferral of prepayment of court costs and fees for indigent prisoners.
Deferral of prepayment of court costs and fees for indigent prisoners.—
For the purposes of this section, the term “prisoner” means a person who has been convicted of a crime and is incarcerated for that crime or who is being held in custody pending extradition or sentencing.
When a prisoner who is intervening in or initiating a judicial proceeding seeks to defer the prepayment of court costs and fees because of indigence, the prisoner must file an affidavit of indigence with the appropriate clerk of the court. The affidavit must contain complete information about the prisoner’s identity; the nature and amount of the prisoner’s income; all real property owned by the prisoner; all tangible and intangible property worth more than $100 which is owned by the prisoner; the amount of cash held by the prisoner; the balance of any checking, savings, or money market account held by the prisoner; the prisoner’s dependents, including their names and ages; the prisoner’s debts, including the name of each creditor and the amount owed to each creditor; and the prisoner’s monthly expenses. The prisoner must certify in the affidavit whether the prisoner has been adjudicated indigent under this section, certified indigent under s. 57.081, or authorized to proceed as an indigent under 28 U.S.C. s. 1915 by a federal court. The prisoner must attach to the affidavit a photocopy of the prisoner’s trust account records for the preceding 6 months or for the length of the prisoner’s incarceration, whichever period is shorter. The affidavit must contain the following statements: “I am presently unable to pay court costs and fees. Under penalty of perjury, I swear or affirm that all statements in this affidavit are true and complete.”
Before a prisoner may receive a deferral of prepayment of any court costs and fees for an action brought under this section, the clerk of court must review the affidavit and determine the prisoner to be indigent.
When the clerk has found the prisoner to be indigent but concludes the prisoner is able to pay part of the court costs and fees required by law, the court shall order the prisoner to make, prior to service of process, an initial partial payment of those court costs and fees. The initial partial payment must total at least 20 percent of the average monthly balance of the prisoner’s trust account for the preceding 6 months or for the length of the prisoner’s incarceration, whichever period is shorter.
When the clerk has found the prisoner to be indigent, the court shall order the prisoner to make monthly payments of no less than 20 percent of the balance of the prisoner’s trust account as payment of court costs and fees. When a court orders such payment, the Department of Corrections or the local detention facility shall place a lien on the inmate’s trust account for the full amount of the court costs and fees, and shall withdraw money maintained in that trust account and forward the money, when the balance exceeds $10, to the appropriate clerk of the court until the prisoner’s court costs and fees are paid in full.
Before an indigent prisoner may intervene in or initiate any judicial proceeding, the court must review the prisoner’s claim to determine whether it is legally sufficient to state a cause of action for which the court has jurisdiction and may grant relief. The court shall dismiss all or part of an indigent prisoner’s claim which:
Fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted;
Seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief;
Seeks relief for mental or emotional injury where there has been no related allegation of a physical injury; or
Is frivolous, malicious, or reasonably appears to be intended to harass one or more named defendants.
A prisoner who has twice in the preceding 3 years been adjudicated indigent under this section, certified indigent under s. 57.081, or authorized to proceed as an indigent under 28 U.S.C. s. 1915 by a federal court may not be adjudicated indigent to pursue a new suit, action, claim, proceeding, or appeal without first obtaining leave of court. In a request for leave of court, the prisoner must provide a complete listing of each suit, action, claim, proceeding, or appeal brought by the prisoner or intervened in by the prisoner in any court or other adjudicatory forum in the preceding 5 years. The prisoner must attach to a request for leave of court a copy of each complaint, petition, or other document purporting to commence a lawsuit and a record of disposition of the proceeding.
In any judicial proceeding in which a certificate of indigence has been issued to a prisoner, the court may at any time dismiss the prisoner’s action, in whole or in part, upon a finding that:
The prisoner’s claim of indigence is false or misleading;
The prisoner provided false or misleading information regarding another judicial or administrative proceeding in which the prisoner was a party;
The prisoner failed to pay court costs and fees under this section despite having the ability to pay; or
The prisoner’s action or a portion of the action is frivolous or malicious.
In determining whether an action is frivolous or malicious, the court may consider whether:
The prisoner’s claim has no arguable basis in law or fact;
The prisoner’s claim reasonably appears intended solely to harass a party filed against;
The prisoner’s claim is substantially similar to a previous claim in that it involves the same parties or arises from the same operative facts as a previous claim;
The prisoner’s claim has little likelihood of success on its merits; or
The allegations of fact in the prisoner’s claim are fanciful or not credible.
This section does not apply to a criminal proceeding or a collateral criminal proceeding.
s. 2, ch. 96-106; s. 6, ch. 2003-1; s. 72, ch. 2003-402; s. 49, ch. 2004-265.