The criminal justice system wouldn’t be able to function without paper. All the way from arrest to sentencing, there is some piece of paper documenting everything that happens in a criminal case. As you can imagine, an incredible amount of filing documents occurs day in and day out and mistakes are made. Papers are filed in the wrong place or altogether lost by the police, the Clerk of Courts, or the prosecutor’s office.
Unfortunately, sometimes these mistakes can lead to someone getting arrested for no reason whatsoever - just because someone made a mistake. People can lose their jobs because of the mistaken arrest and suffer great emotional pain. One presumes when a mistake with such adverse consequences is made, you can seek redress with a lawsuit. However, filing suit under these circumstances is a bit different and much more challenging.
In order to sue the State of Florida or one of its entities (e.g. the Clerk’s Office or the State Attorney’s Office), the State must owe the victim an individual duty. Florida courts have stated, however, that the State’s duty to accurately maintain records is a general duty to the public and not individuals. Therefore, one who has been falsely arrested because of a clerical error is often left without a remedy.
Nevertheless, there are still some instances in which a mistake by those involved in the criminal justice system does create a specific duty to victims. If you find yourself in this sort of situation, call my office. Let us evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights.