1005 N. Marion St.
Tampa, FL 33602
813.250.0500
White Collar Crime

Filing False Documents for Real or Personal Property

Adopted in 2016, the standard jury instruction for “UNLAWFUL FILING OF FALSE [DOCUMENTS] 
[RECORDS] AGAINST [REAL] [PERSONAL]
PROPERTY” under § 817.535(2), Fla. Stat., list the following elements:

  1. The defendant filed or directed a filer to file an instrument;
  2. At the time, the defendant had the intent to defraud or harass another; and
  3. The instrument contained a materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation that purported to affect an owner’s interest in the property described in the instrument.

According to § 817.535(6), Fla. Stat., a person who fraudulently records a claim of lien in the official records pursuant to part I of chapter 713 is subject to the fraud provisions of § 713.31, Fla. Stat., and not § 817.535(6), Fla. Stat.

Lesser included offenses include UNLAWFUL FILING OF FALSE [DOCUMENTS] [RECORDS] AGAINST [REAL] [PERSONAL] PROPERTY — 817.535(2).

Attorney for Real or Personal Property Fraud in Tampa, FL

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients charged with financial and economic crimes, including the unlawful filing of false documents or records against personal or real property under § 817.535(2), Fla. Stat.

Our main office is located in Tampa, FL. Our second office is located in New Port Richey. Our four attorneys represent clients throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, and Polk County.

Call 813-250-0500.

Enhancements for Chapter 20 Real or Personal Property Fraud

Florida law provides for different types of enhancements including:

  • § 817.535(5), Fla. Stat., which provides:
    • “If you find (defendant) guilty of Unlawful Filing of False [Documents] [Records] Against [Real] [Personal] Property, you must also determine if the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the owner of the property covered by the false instrument incurred a financial loss as a result of the instrument being recorded in the official record. Financial loss includes costs and attorney fees incurred in correcting, sealing, or removing the false instrument from the official record.”
  • § 817.535(4), Fla. Stat., which provides:
    • “If you find (defendant) guilty of Unlawful Filing of False [Documents] [Records] Against [Real] [Personal] Property, you must also determine if the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that (defendant) committed the crime while [incarcerated in a jail or correctional institution] [participating in a pretrial diversion program under any form of pretrial release or bond] [on probation or parole] [under any post-release supervision].”
  • § 817.535(3), Fla. Stat., which provides:
    • “If you find (defendant) guilty of Unlawful Filing of False [Documents] [Records] Against [Real] [Personal] Property, you must also determine if the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the owner of the property subject to the false instrument was a public officer or employee.

Definitions for Florida’s Real Estate Fraud Statute

The term “public officer or employee” is defined under § 817.535(1)(e), Fla. Stat., to mean, but is not limited to:

  1. A person who is a candidate for public office or judicial position.
  2. A person who acts as a general or special magistrate, auditor, arbitrator, umpire, referee, hearing officer, or consultant to any state or local governmental entity.
  3. A state or federal executive, legislative, or judicial officer, employee or volunteer authorized to perform actions or services for any state or federal executive, legislative or judicial office or agency.
  4. An employee of a state, county, municipal, political subdivision, school district, educational institution, special district agency or entity, including judges, attorneys, law enforcement officers, deputy clerks of court, and marshals.
  5. A person elected or appointed to a local, state, or federal office, including any person serving on an advisory body, board, commission, committee, council, or authority.

The term “official record” is defined under § 817.535(1)(d), Fla. Stat., to mean:

“the series of instruments, regardless of how they are maintained, which a clerk of the circuit court, or any person or entity designated by general law, special law, or county charter is required or authorized by law to record. The term also includes a series of instruments pertaining to the Uniform Commercial Code filed with the Secretary of State or with any entity under contract with the Secretary of State to maintain Uniform Commercial Code records and a database of judgment liens maintained by the Secretary of State.”

The term “instrument” is defined under § 817.535(1)(c), Fla. Stat., to mean:

“any judgment, mortgage, assignment, pledge, lien, financing statement, encumbrance, deed, lease, bill of sale, agreement, mortgage, notice of claim of lien, notice of levy, promissory note, mortgage note, release, partial release or satisfaction of any of the foregoing, or any other document that relates to or attempts to restrict the ownership, transfer, or encumbrance of or claim against real or personal property, or any interest in real or personal property.”

The term “filer’ is defined under § 817.535(1)(b), Fla. Stat., to mean “the person who presents an instrument for recording in an official record or causes an instrument to be presented for recording in an official record.”

The term “file” is defined under § 817.535(1)(a), Fla. Stat., to mean “to present an instrument for recording in an official record or to cause an instrument to be presented for recording in an official record.”

Bifurcated Proceedings for Prior Violations of § 817.535(2)(a), Fla. Stat.

The following jury instruction is given during the second part of a bifurcated proceeding if the defendant is charged with having a prior violation of § 817.535(2)(a), Fla. Stat.:

Now that you have found (defendant) guilty of Unlawful Filing of False [Documents] [Records] Against [Real] [Personal] Property, you must determine whether the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that [he] [she] has committed the offense of Unlawful Filing of False [Documents] [Records] Against [Real] [Personal Property] a second or subsequent time.

See State v. Harbaugh, 754 So. 2d 691 (Fla. 2000).

This article was last updated on Friday, July 31, 2020.

Contact Form

Free Case Evaluation

Schedule a consultation

Schedule a Consultation
Schedule a Free Consultation at Our Office

Call us to schedule a time to talk with the attorneys in the office or over the phone.

Office: 813.250.0500 Fax: 813.276.1600

Contact Our Office

Contact Our Office
Our Tampa Office

Sammis Law Firm 1005 N. Marion St. Tampa, FL 33602 » Get Directions

Attorneys

Staff

Side Menu