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County Ordinance Violations

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent clients accused of city and county ordinance violations and a variety of code enforcement actions including Section 162 building code and safety rules.

The term “county ordinance violation” means a violation of a Hillsborough County ordinance which is:

  • is initiated by summons, notice to appear, or arrest;
  • includes incarceration as potential punishment; and
  • excludes county ordinance citation violations.

The term “municipal ordinance violation” means a violation of an ordinance of a municipality which:

  • is initiated by summons, notice to appear, or arrest;
  • includes incarceration as potential punishment; and
  • excludes municipal ordinance citation violations.

In Hillsborough County, municipal ordinance violations can be issued by the City of Plant City, the City of Tampa, and the City of Temple Terrace.

Code Enforcement investigates complains about possible violations of the land and property codes to address conditions that threaten the life, health, safety, and general welfare of residents. Code enforcement complaints often involve code violations, zoning violations, watering restriction violations, illegal dumping, construction fraud, and abandoned property.

Attorneys for Ordinance Violations in Hillsborough County, FL

If you were cited for a County Ordinance Violation or a Municipal Ordinance Violation in Hillsborough County, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. You should be aware that a conviction on a county ordinance violation can include incarceration as a potential punishment.

For this reason, a conviction for a county ordinance violation creates a criminal record. A county or municipal ordinance violation is very similar to a second degree misdemeanor charged under state law.

We also represent clients accused of code enforcement actions in Tampa and throughout Hillsborough County, FL, that come with hefty fines and liens against your property.

If you were served with notice that you violated an ordinance, then seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. With offices in Tampa, FL, we can help you fight the case with the goal of getting the violation dismissed outright.

Call (813) 250-0500.


Court Assignment for County and Municipal Ordinance Violations

All county ordinance violations in which the offense occurred in the East Division boundaries will be assigned to East County Criminal Divisions “P” or “X” based on the first letter of the defendant’s last name in accordance with section 3(A) of the administrative order.

All county ordinance violations in which the offense occurred outside of the East Division, except those filed by the City of Tampa, will be assigned to a Tampa county criminal division based on the alphabetical assignment schedule in section 3(D) of the administrative order.

County ordinance violations filed by the City of Tampa will be assigned to Division “D” unless ancillary to a criminal offense.

All City of Plant City municipal ordinance violations will be assigned to East County Criminal Divisions “P” or “X” based on the first letter of the defendant’s last name in accordance with section 3(A) of the administrative order. All City of Tampa and City of Temple Terrace municipal ordinance violations will be assigned to Division “D.”

If a notice to appear contains a court date and it is signed by the defendant, the clerk will set the case for arraignment on that date. If the notice to appear contains a court date but is not signed by the defendant, the clerk will mail notice or issue a summons to the defendant for arraignment on that date.

If a notice to appear or arrest affidavit consists of both a criminal offense and a municipal ordinance violation, the clerk must treat the municipal ordinance violation as ancillary and assign the case in accordance with the assignment procedures for the criminal offense.


Defending Individuals and Companies Against Hillsborough County Ordinances

Under Florida’s Constitution, chartered counties have broad powers of self-government. See art. VIII, § 1(g), Fla. Const. In fact, under article VIII, section 1(g) of the Florida Constitution, chartered counties have the broad authority to “enact county ordinances not inconsistent with general law.” See also David G. Tucker, A Primer on Counties and Municipalities, Part I, Fla. B.J., Mar. 2007, at 49.

Nevertheless, a county ordinance can be inconsistent with state law and therefore unconstitutional in two different ways. First, a county cannot legislate in a field if the subject area has been preempted to the State. See City of Hollywood v. Mulligan, 934 So.2d 1238, 1243 (Fla.2006).

“Preemption essentially takes a topic or a field in which local government might otherwise establish appropriate local laws and reserves that topic for regulation exclusively by the legislature.” Id. (quoting Phantom of Clearwater, 894 So.2d at 1018).

Second, in a field where both the State and local government can legislate concurrently, a county cannot enact an ordinance that directly conflicts with a state statute. See Tallahassee Mem’l Reg’l Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Tallahassee Med. Ctr., Inc., 681 So.2d 826, 831 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996). Local “ordinances are inferior to laws of the state and must not conflict with any controlling provision of a statute.” Thomas v. State, 614 So.2d 468, 470 (Fla.1993); Hillsborough County v. Fla. Rest. Ass’n, 603 So.2d 587, 591 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992) (“If [a county] has enacted such an inconsistent ordinance, the ordinance must be declared null and void.”); see also Rinzler v. Carson, 262 So.2d 661, 668 (Fla.1972) (“A municipality cannot forbid what the legislature has expressly licensed, authorized or required, nor may it authorize what the legislature has expressly forbidden.”).

When a conflict exists between a local ordinance and a state statute when the local ordinance cannot coexist with the state statute. See City of Hollywood, 934 So.2d at 1246; see also State ex rel. Dade County v. Brautigam, 224 So.2d 688, 692 (Fla.1969) (explaining that “inconsistent” as used in article VIII, section 6(f) of the Florida Constitution “means contradictory in the sense of legislative provisions which cannot coexist”).

In other words, “[t]he test for conflict is whether ‘in order to comply with one provision, a violation of the other is required.’ ” Browning v. Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, Inc., 968 So.2d 637, 649 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007) (quoting Phantom of Clearwater, 894 So.2d at 1020), review granted, No. SC07-2074 (Fla. Nov. 29, 2007).

Section 162 Building Code and Safety Rules

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm also represent property owners in Hillsborough County for city and county code violations. We help clients accused of violating the rules and regulations related to the occupancy and use of industrial property, commercial property and residential property.

The most common type of code enforcement actions include: illegal dumping, building too close to the property line, not properly maintaining an overgrown lot, leaving abandoned vehicles parked on the property, or construction without securing the necessary permits.

After this allegation, property owners receive notice of a large fine. The city or county can then impose liens on the property.

In Section 162 actions, the property owner has the right to receive notice of the violation and a chance to come into compliance. The property owner can challenge the allegations during a hearing. At a hearing, the enforcing authority must show competent, substantial, and admissible evidence that the violation occurred.

Strict deadlines are imposed in these cases. For instance, you only have 30 days to bring an appeal.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in fighting actions by city and county code enforcement officers. We can help you challenge an accusation that you violated a county or city regulation, code or rule.

Our attorneys can help you challenge the violation or file an appeal. In many cases, we can help you negotiate a reduced fine or prevent a lien from being placed on your commercial or residential property.


Additional Resources

County Ordinance Violations in Hillsborough County – Visit the website for Hillsborough County to learn more about county ordinance violations.


This article was last updated on Friday, May 11, 2018.

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