Florida’s Office of Statewide Prosecution
Under Florida law, crimes are prosecuted in the county in which the crime actually occurred. For this reason, prosecutors with the Office of Statewide Prosecution (often called the “statewide prosecutors”) travel to the courthouses in each judicial circuit in Florida.
The statewide prosecutors focus mainly on large-scale organized criminal activity related to economic crimes, drug crimes, and computer crimes. These prosectors also focus on criminal cases involving witnesses or events occurring in several different parts of Florida or across county lines.
The Statewide Prosecutors Office sends letters to the targets of a criminal investigation. If you receive such a target letter from an Assistant Statewide Prosecutor, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before you decide how to respond.
Prosecutors call this letter the “target letter.” Your attorney can meet with you to discuss the matter and contact the Office of Statewide Prosecution in Tampa to develop a strategy to fight the accusation and resolve the case on the best possible terms.
Although the target letter might invite you to contact the prosecutor yourself, it is better to retain an attorney to help you at every stage of the case.
You might also need an attorney if you received an “investigative subpoena” that commands you to provide testimony at or documents to the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor in Tampa, FL.
The Florida Constitution directs the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution (OSP) to prosecute crimes that impact two or more judicial circuits in the State of Florida.
The Statewide Prosecutor heads the eight agency offices throughout Florida, including an office in Tampa, FL. Other OSP Bureaus are in Tallahassee, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, and Miami.
The Attorney General appoints the Statewide Prosecutor from a list of nominees selected by the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to serve a four-year term. Currently, the statewide prosecutor is Nicholas B. Cox.
The chief of the Tampa Office of the Statewide Prosecutor is Diane Croff. The Tampa office is in the Concourse Center 4 at 3507 Frontage Road, Suite 200, in Tampa, FL.
Attorneys for Prosecutions by the Statewide Prosecution
If your case is being prosecuted in the Tampa Bay area by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.
We represent clients charged with serious felony offenses for drugs, white-collar crimes, and computer crimes.
Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have a second office in New Port Richey, across from the West Pasco Judicial Center courthouse.
Many of these cases involve complex economic crimes, white-collar crimes, computer crimes, money laundering, racketeering, or engaging in a scheme to defraud.
Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in fighting to prevent the criminal, regulatory, administrative, and civil sanctions used by the statewide prosecutor’s office in these cases. Contact us to discuss your case today.
Call (813) 250-0500.
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Statutory Authority of OSP
The Office of the Statewide Prosecutor (“OSP”) is empowered under Fla. Stat. § 16.56(1)(a) to bring criminal prosecutions in Florida when one of the two following conditions is met:
- the demised crime must have occurred “in two or more judicial circuits as part of a related transaction;” or
- the crime must be “connected with an organized criminal conspiracy affecting two or more judicial circuits.”
If neither condition is met here, the defendant might file a motion to dismiss for lack of statutory authority for OSP to prosecute the case.
Jurisdiction of the Office of Statewide Prosecutor
If the Office of Statewide Prosecution prosecutes your case, the threshold issue is whether the Statewide Prosecutor has jurisdiction and authority to prosecute the case.
The Office of the Statewide Prosecution was created in the Florida Constitution and was given specific powers by statute.
The Florida Constitution gives the Statewide Prosecutor authority to prosecute “violations of criminal laws occurring or having occurred, in two or more judicial circuits as part of a related transaction, or when any such offense is affecting or has affected two or more judicial circuits as provided by general law.” Art. IV, § 4(b), Fla. Const.
Attorneys working as assistant statewide prosecutors often focus on the following types of cases:
- large-scale drug crimes, including prescription drug trafficking/pill mills and narcotics trafficking;
- organized crime;
- human trafficking;
- large-scale fraud and theft cases; and
- organized criminal conspiracy cases affecting two or more judicial circuits.
According to the Attorney General’s website, in 2017-18, the statewide prosecutor’s office obtained the conviction of 457 defendants, resulting in a 96% conviction rate.
Drug Crimes Prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution
Under Section 16.56, Florida Statutes, the Office of Statewide Prosecution (OSP) has the authority to investigate and prosecute any crime involving narcotics or other dangerous drugs when:
- the offense is occurring, or has occurred, in two or more judicial circuits as part of a related transaction;
- the offense is connected with an organized criminal conspiracy affecting two or more judicial circuits; or
- the offense is facilitated by or connected to the use of the Internet.
A local offense then can still be within the authority of the OSP to investigate and prosecute if it falls in any of the three categories.
Most of the prosecutions for drug crimes out of the Tampa Office of the Statewide Prosecution involve prescription drug trafficking through a pill mill or large-scale narcotics trafficking operations.
Local Offenses Prosecuted by the Statewide Prosecutor
In King v. State, 790 So. 2d 477 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001), the court discussed the authority of the OSP over offenses facilitated by or connected to Internet use. It found a clear legislative intent to expand the jurisdiction of the OSP to cover such offenses.
In 2007 the Florida Legislature recognized the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Internet by specifically adding paragraph (b) to Section 16.56, Florida Statutes, effectively expanding the authority of the OSP to investigate and prosecute any crime enumerated in Section 16.56(1)(a) that was facilitated by or connected to the use of the Internet and deeming that such crimes occur simultaneously in every Florida judicial circuit. Ch. 2007-143, Laws of Fla.
Subsequent legislative amendments to the statute provided for the addition of offenses to the OSP’s jurisdiction and changes to the language in paragraph (b). Section 16.56(1)(b) now reads:
“Investigate and prosecute any crime enumerated in paragraph (a) facilitated by or connected to the use of the Internet. Any such crime is a crime occurring in every judicial circuit within the state.”
The same 2007 legislative bill that expanded the authority of the OSP in Section 16.56(1)(b) also significantly expanded the application of Section 910.15, which deals with the jurisdiction and venue issues for criminal trial cases.
The amendment to that statute “makes the multi-jurisdiction provision (and statewide Internet provision) applicable to the trial of any crime facilitated by a communication using mail, telephone, newspaper, radio, television, Internet, or another means of electronic data communication.” FL Staff An., S.B. 1004, 2/23/2007.
This language would encompass electronic bank transmittals. Other provisions in the bill expanded Section 16.56 to include violations of statutes concerning abuse of children within the authority of the OSP when the crime is facilitated by or connected to the use of the Internet or any “electronic data storage or transmission device.” Id.
Priorities of the OSP in 2020
Over time, the priorities of the Florida Office of Statewide Prosecution changed. The Attorney General has stated that the current priorities include:
- human trafficking
- prescription drug trafficking
- pill mills
- criminal gangs
- violent crime
- narcotics/synthetic drug trafficking
The goal of the Statewide Prosecutor in Florida is to disrupt criminal organizations through prosecution in court as well as civil, administrative, and regulatory sanctions, when appropriate.
For the fiscal year 2019-20, the OSP received $8,459,764.00 in funding and had 72.50 full-time positions for prosecuting multi-circuit organized crime. The current operating budget for OSP is listed as $7,129,390. See http://transparencyflorida.gov/.
Investigative Subpoena from the Statewide Prosecutor
When a criminal investigation crosses state lines, the Statewide Prosecutor might issue an investigative subpoena that requires you to appear before an assistant statewide prosecutor at a particular time and place to provide truthful testimony.
The subpoena is issued under the authority of the Circuit Court at the request of the Office of Statewide Prosecution, by and through the undersigned prosecuting attorney. The subpoena often provides:
“Failure to obey this Order is punishable as contempt of court.”
For this reason, if you receive such an investigative subpoena, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights. For instance, the statewide prosecutor might tell you that Florida Statute § 914.04 provides both use and derivative immunity for testimony given pursuant to an investigative subpoena.
You should be aware, however, that the testimony given pursuant to an investigative subpoena does not provide transactional immunity for any subsequent prosecution based on evidence from legitimate independent sources.
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. §914.04, use and derivative use immunity guarantee a compelled witness not only that their words will not be used against them directly, but also that they will not be used indirectly as leads to the development of derivative evidence.
Questions remain over whether such immunity occurs when the statewide prosecutor issues the investigative subpoena instead of the State Attorney’s Office.
If criminal charges are later brought using that testimony, an attorney can help you decide whether you are entitled to challenge the trial court’s jurisdiction to proceed by claiming immunity and by seeking relief by writ of prohibition if the trial court proceeds nevertheless.
Florida Attorney General – Statewide Prosecutor – Visit the website of the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution which the Florida Constitution directs to prosecute crimes that impact two or more judicial circuits in the State of Florida. The Statewide Prosecutor in Florida serves a term of four years and acts as the agency head for eight offices throughout the state. Find information on the Tampa Office of Statewide Prosecution at the Office of the Attorney General on Concourse Center 4, 3507 E. Frontage Road, Suite 350. Tampa, FL 33607-1794.
List of State Attorneys in Florida – Since the elections in 2016, the names of several of the State Attorneys in Florida have changed. This recently updated list provides the name of each of the twenty (20) state attorneys elected in each judicial circuit (often called the “district attorney” in other jurisdictions), links to their website, address, phone numbers, and other contact information. Find information on the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association (FPAA) that serves the elected State Attorney for each judicial circuit and over 1,900 Assistant State Attorneys throughout Florida.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 11, 2023.