Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on a department or section below to view their FAQs.

Appeals

What is an Appeal?

An Appeal is a legal process in which a ruling by a lower court is reviewed by a higher court to decide whether the lower court’s ruling should stand as is or be reversed. In other words, if you don’t agree with a court’s ruling, you can ask a higher court to review that ruling and perhaps change it.

How long do I have to file a Notice of Appeal?

A Notice of Appeal has to be filed within 30 days of the original court’s final ruling.

For civil cases—as opposed to criminal cases—you must file the original Notice of Appeal as well as two identical copies of it. A copy of the court order has to be attached to the original Notice and to each of the two copies being filed (i.e. one for the filer, one to serve the adverse party).

County Civil

Where are County Civil / Small Claims hearings held?

They are held at the Duval County Courthouse, located at 501 West Adams Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32202.

Is there a fee required to record a notice of lis pendens in a new case?

Yes, the recording fee is $5 for the first page and $4 for each additional page. In addition, there is an indexing fee of $1 per name after the first four names.

Is there a fee to record a notice of dismissal and release of lis pendens (including cancellation of lis pendens, discharge of lis pendens, and release of lis pendens)?

Yes, the recording fee is $10 for the first page and $8.50 for each additional page. In addition, there is an indexing fee of $1 per name after the first four names.

How much does the Sheriff’s Office charge to serve a summons and complaint?

The charge is $40 per summons. The payment must be separate from other fees.

What happens if the defendant in a County Civil / Small Claims case cannot be located to be served with my complaint?

If the defendant has not been served with your complaint, your hearing date will be canceled. But your case will remain open for six months to give you time to locate the defendant and provide the court with another address for service. It’s important to make sure that the defendant is at the address you supply prior to filing your complaint.

Filing fees are non-refundable if the Sheriff’s Office cannot locate the defendant for you.

How will I know if a defendant in a County Civil / Small Claims case has been served?

By contacting the Sheriff's Office or your process server. You may also contact the Clerk's office at the address below.

If the defendant is not served in a County Civil / Small Claims case, are there additional fees due if I locate another address?

The Clerk’s Office charges a statutory summons-issuance fee of $10 per defendant. In addition, if you use the Sheriff’s Office for service, they will charge $40 to attempt service at another location.

Can an attorney appear in County Civil or Small Claims court?

Yes, even though attorneys are not required in small claims court, you or the opposing party may hire an attorney.

Felony

What is a Felony?

A felony is a criminal offense of a more serious nature that is punishable by a prison sentence of at least one year.

What information will I need to have before contacting your office?

We ask that you have the following on hand:

  • Duval County felony case number
  • Jail offender number
  • State Attorney case number
  • Date of offense
  • Complete name of defendant (as arrested by arresting agency)

What is considered proper courtroom attire?

Most courtrooms will not admit anyone wearing shorts, un-tucked shirts, t-shirts with graphic or offensive wording or images, or revealing clothing.

Where are the judge's offices located?

For information about the 4th Judicial Circuit, please visit its website.  

How can I press charges against someone?

Please contact the Office of the State Attorney (904) 255-2500 for information.

When are my court costs due?

Typically your court costs are due 90 days after the period of incarceration.

How do I seal/expunge my record?

There are very strict criteria for sealing or expunging court records. Some of the requirements are:

  • You were charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense but were not convicted or adjudication was withheld
  • The State Attorney declined to prosecute your case
  • You have not had any other court record sealed or expunged in the State of Florida

You may be eligible to have court records about your case sealed or expunged. However, by Florida law, there are certain charges that cannot be sealed or expunged regardless of whether adjudication was withheld.

What are the differences between a sealed record and an expunged record?

A sealed record can be opened only in certain ways, including:

  • By order of the court
  • For inspection by the Judiciary
  • By the defendant
  • By an attorney of record
  • By a criminal-justice agency

Please seek advice from an attorney for more information on having criminal court records sealed.

On the other hand, if a record is expunged, it will no longer exist. The case and any references to the case are destroyed. However, as governed by Florida Rule 3.692, there are some instances in which a case cannot be expunged until 10 years after the record of arrest has been sealed. Please seek advice from an attorney for more information about having criminal court records expunged.

You can get a packet with instructions on how to seal or expunge your case by visiting FDLE's Seal and Expunge Process web page or by appearing in person at the Felony Department, located at the address below.

May I attend a criminal trial?

All sessions of court are open to the public unless a judge has ordered it to be closed. Please note that everyone attending a court session is expected to dress and conduct themselves properly.

What is an Arraignment?

An Arraignment is a court procedure in which a person accused of a crime is brought before the court to be informed of the official charges against her or him. The person is also informed of his or her rights during the Arraignment. At that time the defendant is asked if he or she chooses to plead "guilty," "not guilty" or "nolo contendere" (no contest).

In most instances, a case is continued from the arraignment to a later court date. If the case is continued, the defendant is notified at the arraignment of his or her next court date.

How can I get a "criminal records search/background check and letter," and how much does it cost?

Since the Clerk of Courts is not responsible for performing criminal record or background searches, we suggest that you contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for information about these searches.

I would like an attorney but can't afford one. What can I do?

Florida Statute 27.51(1) states, "The public defender shall represent, without additional compensation, any person determined by the court to be indigent as provided in Florida Statute 27.52." If you have been arrested and charged with a felony offense but you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for the service of a public defender. You can make a request for a public defender during your first court appearance. Please contact the Public Defender’s Office at (904) 255-4673 for additional information.

I am a witness in a case. How can I obtain information concerning the case?

As a witness in a case, you should direct all questions about that case to the attorney who subpoenaed you as a witness.

How can I get my cash bond refunded?

At the conclusion of a felony case, the cash bond may be released to the depositor. But keep in mind that the cash bond may be used for payment of fines, court costs or Restitution before the reimbursement of any remaining funds. If the depositor is due a refund, she or he will receive the refund within 10 to 14 working days after the conclusion of the case.

If you are due a refund but haven’t received it after 14 working days, please contact the Felony Department at (904) 255-2000. We’ll work promptly to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. Just be sure to have available the felony case number, the defendant's name and the date of final adjudication/disposition.

Who is the judge or Assistant State Attorney assigned to a case?

If you have an assigned felony case number (i.e., the defendant has been to an arraignment hearing), please contact the Felony Department at (904) 255-2000 or the State Attorney’s Office at (904)255-2500.

If the defendant has not been assigned a felony case number (i.e., the defendant has not been to an arraignment hearing), please contact the State Attorney’s Office at (904)255-2500.

How do I file an appeal?

Please contact your attorney about the proper procedures for filing an appeal. If you’d like to research the information yourself, you may consult the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, which are found in the Florida Rules of Court. In addition, the Law Library located in the Duval County Courthouse is available to assist in your research.

How do I apply for clemency?

You may call or write:

Office of Executive Clemency

2601 Blairstone Rd

Bldg. C, Room 229

Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2450

Phone

(850) 488-2952

Finance & Accounting

When can I expect payment?

Generally, Finance and Accounting mails checks within five to ten business days after receiving the notice to disburse, court orders, requests for refunds, et cetera.

Where can I find out about unclaimed property?

Annually, the Clerk's Office escheats unclaimed funds to the State of Florida or to the City of Jacksonville. Funds escheated to the City are not recoverable. Funds escheated to the State can be claimed from the Comptroller of the State of Florida. For further information on unclaimed property escheated to the State, please visit the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property website.

Jury Service

I’m not registered to vote. How was my name selected?

Your name was selected from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle files, not voter’s registration. This file includes all licensed drivers and people who possess a Florida Identification Card, are 18 years of age or older, and reside in Duval County. This list is updated each quarter and is sent to the Clerk’s Office.

How long will I be there?

You should plan to be at the courthouse for the entire day on the day you report for jury selection. Jury service in the State of Florida is for one day or the length of one trial. Some trials exceed one day.

Most juries are selected on the initial reporting day, and some trials will begin and end on the same day. The length of the trial will be discussed during the selection process. If you find that the length of the trial conflicts with a personal schedule, you’ll have the opportunity to explain this to the judge during the jury selection process.

Reporting for jury service will count as completing your duty for jury service, even if you are not selected to sit on a jury. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT IF YOU CHOOSE TO SPEAK WITH THE QUALIFYING JUDGE AND GET EXCUSED, IT DOES NOT COUNT AS SERVING.

Keep in mind that it’s always best to bring any medication you might need and to arrange for family matters before you report for jury service. 

I know I will not be selected to be on a jury because of what my spouse or I do for a living. Why not excuse me now and save time?

The Duval County Circuit and County Courts try both criminal and civil matters. The random selection process prevents you from knowing for what type of trial you may be selected for. Additionally, if the judge excuses you from a certain case, you may still be sent to another courtroom for selection.  

I am unable to judge anyone because of my moral or religious beliefs. May I be excused?

Please understand that Florida law does not provide for an excuse from jury service for moral or religious beliefs. Only the court has that discretion. You are still required to appear for jury selection. Of course, you can always address these concerns when you are before the judge.

I watch my grandchildren, can I be excused?

Florida law states that the juror has to have care and custody of a child less than six years of age to qualify for the optional exemption. If the grandparent has custody and the child or children are under six years of age, then you can request that optional exemption.

Does my employer have to pay me while I am serving as a juror?

No. Florida law does not require employers to compensate their employees while they are serving on jury duty.

Can my employer prevent me from serving as a juror, or can I be terminated from my job for having jury service?

No. Florida state law prohibits any employer from preventing a person from serving as a juror or firing an employee who is serving on jury duty.

If I am a corrections officer or if I work for Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office but not as a law-enforcement officer, may I be excused?

No. Florida state law excuses only full-time federal, state or local law-enforcement officers or investigators employed by a law-enforcement agency.

What if I do not drive or if I have transportation issues? May I be excused?

No. Please call the Jury Services office for additional information at (904) 255-2087.

Juvenile

What is a felony?

A felony is a criminal offense of a more serious nature that is punishable by a prison sentence of at least one year.

What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a crime lower than a felony and generally punishable by fine or imprisonment for less than one year and not in a penitentiary.

What is a delinquent act?

According to Chapter 985 of the Florida Statutes, a minor is found to have committed a delinquent act if he or she is found to be in contempt of court or is found guilty of committing a violation of the law that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult.  

What is adjudicated delinquent?

Adjudicated delinquent is the term used when a minor is legally considered to have committed a crime as a child. This can happen only after a child has been found guilty by the court or has admitted guilt. However, being found delinquent does not meet the same legal grounds as being convicted of a crime as an adult.

What is a withhold of adjudication?

A withhold of adjudication occurs when an individual is found guilty of or admits guilt to a violation of the law, but the court does not legally convict the individual of a crime or adjudicate a juvenile as a delinquent.

I have moved. What do I need to do?

Juveniles or their parents are required to keep the Clerk's Office informed of their correct address. If the mailing address changes, it must be submitted in writing, in person or by mail to the Juvenile Department.

We received a summons for Collection Court. What should I do?

  • Contact the Collections/Juvenile Department to set up a payment arrangement.
  • Attend the Collection Court hearing.

I missed my Collection Court hearing. What will happen now?

  • If it is your first notice for Collection Court, contact the Collections/Juvenile Department to make payment arrangement immediately to avoid a second notice.
  • After a second notice is issued and arrangements are not made, and after you have failed to appear in court, your driver’s license could be suspended until all pending cases are paid in full.

How do I set up payment arrangements?

Please visit the Collection/Juvenile Department and provide a Florida ID. The contract signer must be at least 18 years of age.

My driver’s license has been suspended. How do I get it reinstated?

To reinstate a driver’s license, court fees on all outstanding cases must be paid in full. At that time, the Collection Department will issue a release, and the guarantor is responsible for taking it to the Department of Motor Vehicles to have the license reinstated.

Do I have to come to court with my child?

Yes. Please understand that the Clerk’s Office cannot excuse anyone from a subpoena or a summons.

Am I responsible for my child’s criminal activities?

Yes, until your child is 18 years old.

Can I pay my child’s restitution and/or court fees at the Duval County Courthouse?

Yes. Please make your payments at the Clerk’s Office at 501 West Adams Street, 2nd Floor, Juvenile Department.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept cash, cashier’s check, money order and credit cards (MasterCard, VISA, Discover, and American Express).

Do you accept personal checks?

No. We’re sorry, but our office cannot accept personal checks.

Can I mail my payment for restitution and/or court fees?

Yes, if paying by cashier’s check or money order. Please make checks payable to Clerk of Courts and mail to the Juvenile Department.

Can anyone see my child’s juvenile records?

No. We treat them in a confidential manner. But please note that a parent, a legal guardian, the child’s attorney, law-enforcement officials or the armed forces may obtain information with proper identification and/or a release signed by the child.

Do I have to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility to have my juvenile criminal-history record sealed or expunged?

The following considerations are important in the decision of whether to seek the judicial sealing or expunction of a juvenile criminal-history record. Before October 1, 1994, juvenile arrest records were not maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in the criminal-history record system. Juvenile arrests for felonies occurring before October 1, 1994 and for misdemeanors before July 1, 1996 are not available to the general public unless the juvenile was treated as an adult. Juvenile records are subject to an abbreviated retention schedule, if certain qualifications are met, which results in the Juvenile defendants who successfully complete a qualified diversion program, as set out in s.943.0582, Florida Statutes, may be eligible for expunction for their record as the term is defined therein. For anyone who would like to pursue the judicial sealing or expunction of his or her juvenile record, the eligibility criteria and procedure can be found in s.943.059 and s.943.0585, Florida Statutes. These are similar to the criteria and procedure for adults.

How long does it typically take to receive a response from my application for a Certificate of Eligibility?

The current processing time is 90 or fewer working days from the date the application is received, processed and mailed back to the customer.

Special Note: If the application is not complete at the time of submission, we have no choice but to return it. Of course, this will cause the application process to be delayed beyond the 90-working-day period.

What is the difference between having a criminal-history record sealed and having it expunged?

Sealed record: When a criminal-history record is sealed, the public does not have access to it. Certain governmental or related entities—primarily those listed in s.943.059(4)(a), Florida Statutes—have access to sealed record information in its entirety.

Expunged record: By contrast, if your record has been expunged, those who would normally have had access to your sealed record will be told that you have had the record expunged. They would not be able to access to the record without a court order. All they would receive is a statement saying that “Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record”.

By law, s.943.0582(8), Florida Statutes, a juvenile diversion expunge does not prevent the record subject from seeking a judicial expunction or sealing under s.943.0585 or s.943.059, Florida Statutes.

Marriage License

Who may apply for a marriage license?

  • Any person age 18 or older
  • A minor whose parents are deceased and who has no appointed guardian
  • Minors who, under oath, swear that they are parents or expectant parents of a child can petition a judge to issue a license. A pregnancy must be confirmed by a licensed physician.
  • A previously married minor
  • A person age 17 with parental or guardian consent

Please Note: If any person is a minor, both parents must give consent unless the parents are divorced and the custody and control of the child is placed with one parent. All written consents must be notarized, a task that can be performed at the Clerk's Office for a fee of $7.00. If divorced, the parent must present a certified copy of the divorce papers.

What do I need to apply for a marriage license?

  • If the parties applying for a license have children together that were born in Florida, they must fill out the Affirmation of Children Born in Florida form (DH743A).
  • Both parties must apply together in person.
  • Each party must show a valid driver's license, a valid state identification card, a valid passport or valid military identification.
  • Both parties must provide their Social Security numbers.
  • If either party has been previously married, the party must provide the date his or her last marriage ended.
  • Couples are required by law to read the Family Law Handbook supplied by the clerk and sign a statement acknowledging that they have done so before applying for the license

What is the fee for a marriage license?

The fee is $86.00, but it can be reduced by $25.00 if you provide proof that you took a premarital preparation course (this applies to Florida residents only).

How can I pay for my marriage license?

We accept the following forms of payment:

  • Cash, money order or cashier's check (payable to the Duval County Clerk of Courts)
  • MasterCard, VISA, Discover or American Express (with a 3.5% surcharge added)

The Clerk’s Office does not accept personal checks.

Is there a waiting period for a marriage license?

Yes, for Florida residents. Marriage license applications are issued the same day as requested as long as all requirements are met. But there is a 3-day waiting period to be married for couples who live in Florida but do not provide proof that they have completed a premarital preparation course.

A couple claiming hardship can petition a judge to waive the three-day waiting period.

There is no waiting period for non-residents.

When do I take the premarital preparation course?

You can take it any time within one year prior to applying for a license.

Who is qualified to be a provider of a premarital preparation course?

  • A psychologist licensed under Chapter 490, Florida Statutes
  • A clinical social worker licensed under Chapter 491, Florida Statutes
  • A marriage and family therapist licensed under Chapter 491, Florida Statutes
  • A mental-health counselor licensed under Chapter 491, Florida Statutes
  • An official representative of a religious institution that is recognized under Florida Statute 496.404(20), if the representative has relevant training
  • Any other provider designated by a judicial circuit, including but not limited to school counselors who are certified to offer such courses

You can find a provider by using our online premarital course provider search.

Are blood tests and physical exams required?

No.

Do I need to apply for a marriage license in the county where I live or in the county where the ceremony is going to be held?

Actually, it doesn’t matter. You can get a marriage license in any Florida county.

Can I use the Florida marriage license to be married in another state or country?

No. The ceremony must be performed within the state of Florida in order to be recorded and valid.

Where can I apply for a marriage license in Duval County?

We will be happy to help you Monday through Friday, except holidays, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the following Clerk's Offices:

  • Duval County Courthouse, 501 West Adams Street, Room 2403, in downtown Jacksonville
  • 1543 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach

How long is a marriage license application valid once it is issued?

It’s valid for 60 days.

Who may perform the ceremony?

The following officials are authorized by Florida law to perform marriage ceremonies:

  • Ordained clergy
  • Elders in communion with a church
  • All Florida judges
  • Notaries public of the State of Florida

The law also provides that ceremonies may be performed among Quakers or "Friends" in the manner and form used or practiced in their societies.

Can a marriage be solemnized without a license?

No. Section 741.08, Florida Statutes, states that the party solemnizing the marriage must have a properly issued license before performing the ceremony.

Who should return the license to the clerk, and when should they do it?

A marriage cannot be officially recorded until the license is returned to the Clerk’s Office. It should be returned within 10 days of the wedding, and the party that performed the marriage is responsible for returning the completed license.

Mental Health

Marchman Act

What is the Marchman Act?

The Marchman Act was established to provide involuntary treatment for substance abuse, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs or alcohol (Florida Statutes 397).

Is there a fee to file?

No, there isn’t. But please keep in mind that there is a fee of $231.00 for incapacity cases.

What facilities are used, and are they lockdown?

We use the following facilities:

  • River Region (not lockdown)
  • Gateway, Detox (not lockdown)
  • Gateway New Beginnings (not lockdown), Detox (lockdown)

How long can an individual be ordered into treatment?

Our orders do not exceed 90 days. But if the staff of the facility feels that the individual needs to be there longer, they can petition the court to extend treatment.

What will happen if the Respondent doesn’t comply with the court-ordered assessment or treatment?

In this case, the facility is responsible for filing an affidavit to bring the person back into court before the magistrate.

Baker Act

How long do the orders remain in effect?

If no time limit is specified in the order, the order shall be valid for 7 days after the date that the order is signed.

Can you go outside Duval County to pick up an individual on an Exparte Order for Involuntary Examination?

No, we are limited to the boundaries of Duval County.

What facilities does Duval County use with an Exparte Order?

We use the following two facilities:

  • Mental Health Resource Center, 11820 Beach Boulevard
  • Mental Health Center of Jacksonville, 3333 W. 20th Street

Please note that the Respondent will go to the closest receiving facility unless there is no available bed.

How long does an involuntary examination take?

Normally it takes less than 72 hours unless the facility feels that the Respondent needs to be there longer.

What if people who are being held under an involuntary placement feel that they are being held against their will?

In this case, the person can ask the facility for a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. This may also be done by a friend, private attorney or spouse.

Misdemeanor

Where are the Judges' offices located?

For information about the 4th Judicial Circuit, please visit www.jud4.org.

How can I press charges against someone?

Please contact the State Attorney’s Office at (904) 255-2500 to learn about this process.

What if I can't pay my fine?

If you are on Probation and the Judge ordered you to pay your fine to the Salvation Army Probation Department, please contact your Probation Officer. If you fail to contact them about a late payment, it may result in a Violation of Probation. Also, the Court may issue a Warrant for your arrest.

If you are not on Probation, you were given a specific date to pay your fines. If you do not pay these fines by that date, your information may be forwarded to a collections agency in an effort to collect your fine. This is subject to a 40-percent collections rate. Payment extensions are granted in certain types of cases. Please call the Misdemeanor Department at (904) 255-2000.

I have moved. What information should I provide the Clerk of Courts?

The defendant is responsible for keeping the Clerk of Court informed of his or her correct address. For your convenience, you can mail your change of address to the address below.

Please include the Misdemeanor case number, the defendant’s name, the date of arrest (if available) and charges (if available) in the letter with the new address.

Can I attend a criminal trial?

All sessions of court are open to the public unless a judge has ordered it to be closed. Of course, spectators are expected to dress and conduct themselves properly when attending any court session.

What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is a court procedure in which a person accused of breaking the law pleads to the charge stated in a charging document (i.e., information, citation, etc.). The defendant is told of the charge and of his or her legal rights. The defendant is then asked to plead guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (no contest).

In most instances, a case is continued from the arraignment to a later court date. If so, the defendant is informed of his or her next court date.

How can I get a "criminal records search/background check and letter," and how much does it cost?

Since the Clerk of Courts is not responsible for performing criminal record or background searches, we suggest that you contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for information about these searches.

I would like an attorney but can't afford one. What can I do?

Florida Statute 27.51(1) states, "The public defender shall represent, without additional compensation, any person determined by the court to be indigent as provided in Florida Statute 27.52." If you have been arrested and charged with a criminal offense but you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for the service of a public defender. You can make a request for a public defender during your first court appearance. Please contact the Public Defender’s Office at (904) 255-4673 if you’d like more information.

I am a witness in a case. How can I get information about the case?

As a witness in a case, please direct your questions about that case to the attorney who subpoenaed you as a witness.

How can I get my cash bond refunded?

After a case is concluded, the cash bond may be released to the depositor. But keep in mind that the cash bond may be used to pay for fines, court costs or Restitution before the reimbursement of any remaining funds. If the depositor is due a refund, he or she will receive it within 10 to 14 working days after final adjudication/disposition of the case.

If you are due a refund, and if you have not received it after 14 working days, please contact the Misdemeanor Department at (904) 255-2000. We’ll make every effort to address the matter as quickly as possible. Please just be sure to have available the misdemeanor case number, the defendant's name, and the date of final adjudication/disposition (if available).

How do I file an appeal?

Please contact your attorney to learn about the proper procedures for filing an appeal. If you’d like to research the information yourself, you may consult the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, which are found in the Florida Rules of Court. In addition, the Law Library located in the Duval County Courthouse is available to help you in your research.

Probate

General Probate

What is Probate and why is it necessary?

Probate is the legal procedure in which the assets of a deceased person are determined and then distributed according to a valid will, if there is one. This is done in keeping with Florida statutes. Assets are distributed to the heirs of the estate and to any others who have a legitimate legal claim against the estate.

Can I deposit my will with the court?

Please understand that a will cannot be accepted for deposit with the court before the death of the person who makes out the will.

What are the responsibilities of the person or firm holding the will of someone who has died?

Within ten days after death, the will should be deposited with the Clerk of Court in the county where the decedent was living on the day she or he died.

What happens if a person dies and has left no will?

In these cases, the assets of the estate will be distributed according to Florida law.

How do I file a statement of claim?

A statement of claim does not have to be filed on any particular form, but it must include all of the following:

  • The standard header with the Probate file number and the name of the decedent
  • The basis for the claim
  • The name and address of the claimant
  • The amount of the claim
  • The original signature of the claimant or the representative of the claimant

Please note that if you submit the claim by hand-delivery or mail, you’ll need to include the original and one copy. Statements of claim may also be e-filed.

What can I do to be notified when an estate over a decedent is opened?

Any creditor or interested party of an estate may file a Caveat, in accordance with Florida Statute 731.110. This document assures that if a Probate administration has been filed or is ever filed over the decedent, the Caveator will be notified by the Clerk of Court.

Can you tell me over the telephone if a Probate has been opened on a particular individual?

No, we can’t, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Due to the high volume of requests for searches, we cannot do searches over the phone. But there are two ways to find out if a Probate case has been opened on someone:

  • Visit the Probate Department in person to conduct a search on our computer system or in the archive books, located in official records, for cases opened before 1977.
  • Send in a written request. Please be sure to provide the decedent's full name and date of death, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a payment of $2.00 per name for the search fee (please note that we can accept only business checks, cashier’s checks or money orders).

What do I need to do to obtain a court order so that cash assets belonging to my deceased relative can be released to me?

You can start a procedure called a Disposition of Personal Property without Administration if the following conditions are met: the estate in question consists only of cash assets, a vehicle or other personal assets with a total value of $6,000.00 or less, and you paid the funeral expenses for your relative. This procedure may only be done in the county of the decedent’s permanent residence as of the date of death. The filing fee is $231.00, payable in cash, cashier’s check, or money order.

Please note that the following documents must be provided:

  • A paid funeral receipt showing who paid for the funeral or, if the funeral has not been paid for, the most current funeral bill
  • Paid receipts for any medical expenses incurred 60 days prior to death
  • A certified death certificate
  • Documents verifying the asset to be released, for example bank statements, stock certificate, check made payable to the decedent or blue-book value and current registration of a vehicle
  • The decedent’s original will, if you have it

According to Florida Statutes, the decedent’s personal-use vehicle(s) may be transferred by this procedure only to the surviving spouse, or if there is no surviving spouse, to the children of the decedent.

If the court decides that you are entitled to the decedent’s assets, it will enter an order authorizing the release or transfer of the assets. A certified copy of the order will be mailed to you for submission to anyone who holds the assets. If all funeral costs have not been paid, the court will direct that cash assets be released directly to the funeral home toward payment of the remaining balance.

If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, payment can be arranged to be taken from cash assets of the decedent.

Guardianship

What is a plenary guardian?

A plenary guardian is someone who has been appointed by the court to exercise all delegable legal rights and powers of the ward. The appointment is made after a finding that the ward is unable to perform all of the tasks necessary to care for his or her own person or property.

What is a limited guardian?

A limited guardian is someone who has been appointed by the court to exercise the legal rights and powers specifically designated in the court’s order. This order is entered after the court has found that the ward lacks the capacity to do some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for his or her own person or property. A court may also enter this order after a person has voluntarily petitioned for appointment of a limited guardian.

What is an incapacitated person?

An incapacitated person is someone who has been judicially determined to lack the ability to manage at least some of his or her property or who cannot provide for his or her own health and safety.

What is required for a Declaration of Preneed Guardian?

If you’re concerned about becoming incapacitated, you can ask for a guardian to be appointed for yourself or for your children. The document that identifies the guardian is called a Declaration of Preneed Guardian. It should be properly signed and notarized and filed with the Probate Department. The document doesn’t have to be recorded, and there is no fee for filing it. But if you want it to be recorded, you’ll need to bring it to the Recording Department, pay the applicable recording fees and then file it with the Probate Department.

Where do I go for guardianship training?

Unless waived by a court order, all guardians are required to attend guardianship training. In Duval County, the training is provided by Aging True, formerly known as the Cathedral Foundation, located at 4250 Lakeside Drive, Suite 116, Jacksonville, FL 32210. They may be reached at (904) 807-1203.

What types of reports are required of a guardian?

The guardian of a person is required to file an initial plan within 60 days after letters of guardianship are granted by the court. Unless waived by a court order, annual plans must be filed within 90 days of each anniversary date of granting of the letters of guardianship.

The guardian of the property must file an inventory of the ward’s assets as of the date of appointment within 60 days after letters of guardianship are granted by the court. Unless waived by a court order, annual accountings must be filed within 90 days of each anniversary date of granting of the letters of guardianship.

What are the audit fees required for guardianship reports?

An audit fee of $85.00 is required for the initial inventory if the ward’s assets exceed $25,000. Audit fees for annual accountings vary based on the ending balance of each accounting:

  • $25,000 or less: $20.00
  • $25,001 to $100,000: $85.00
  • $100,001 to $500,000: $170.00
  • $500,001 or more: $250.00

What can I do if I can’t afford to hire an attorney?

Please contact Jacksonville Area Legal Aid services. Their address and phone number can be found online or in the phone book.

Small Claims

Where are County Civil / Small Claims hearings held?

They are held at the Duval County Courthouse, located at 501 West Adams Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32202.

Is there a fee required to record a notice of lis pendens in a new case?

Yes, the recording fee is $5 for the first page and $4 for each additional page. In addition, there is an indexing fee of $1 per name after the first four names.

Is there a fee to record a notice of dismissal and release of lis pendens (including cancellation of lis pendens, discharge of lis pendens, and release of lis pendens)?

Yes, the recording fee is $10 for the first page and $8.50 for each additional page. In addition, there is an indexing fee of $1 per name after the first four names.

How much does the Sheriff’s Office charge to serve a summons and complaint?

The charge is $40 per summons. The payment must be separate from other fees.

What happens if the defendant in a County Civil / Small Claims case cannot be located to be served with my complaint?

If the defendant has not been served with your complaint, your hearing date will be canceled. But your case will remain open for six months to give you time to locate the defendant and provide the court with another address for service. It’s important to make sure that the defendant is at the address you supply prior to filing your complaint.

Filing fees are non-refundable if the Sheriff’s Office cannot locate the defendant for you.

How will I know if a defendant in a County Civil / Small Claims case has been served?

By contacting the Sheriff's Office or your process server. You may also contact the Clerk's office at the address below.

If the defendant is not served in a County Civil / Small Claims case, are there additional fees due if I locate another address?

The Clerk’s Office charges a statutory summons-issuance fee of $10 per defendant. In addition, if you use the Sheriff’s Office for service, they will charge $40 to attempt service at another location.

Can an attorney appear in County Civil or Small Claims court?

Yes, even though attorneys are not required in small claims court, you or the opposing party may hire an attorney.

Tax Deeds

What is a Tax Deed sale?

A Tax Deed sale is a public auction in which real estate is sold to recover delinquent property taxes. (This is governed by Chapter 197, Florida Statutes, and Administrative Code 12D-13.060, Florida Department of Revenue).

Who conducts the Tax Deed sale?

Tax Deed sales are conducted monthly on our auction website in accordance with Section 197.542(4)(a), Florida Statutes.

Where can I get information about upcoming sales?

For your convenience, our office posts the sale date and a list of properties 30 days before the auction. You can find this list on the Tax Deed auction website under “auction calendar.” The Tax Deed sales are also advertised in the Financial News and Daily Record in the Public Notices section. The Clerk of the Circuit Court is required by Florida Statutes to advertise each sale once a week for four consecutive weeks prior to the public auction (Section 197.512(1), Florida Statutes).

Can the property owner stop the property from being sold for taxes?

Yes. The owner or mortgage holder can redeem a property from the Tax Deed sale by paying the delinquent taxes and all costs associated with the process leading up to and including the Tax Deed auction. These payments should be made to the Tax Collector. A redemption can take place up until the time full payment for the Tax Deed has been received by the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

How do I know which properties have been removed from the sale?

The Tax Collector sends a report of the redemptions to our office daily. Those redemptions are uploaded to the auction site nightly and are reflected in the “auctions closed or canceled” section.

Do I have to register to bid?

Yes, you do. You can register with the auction website at and place the required deposit in order to bid. Please see the website for further instruction about registration and placing a deposit.

How do I pay for my deposit? How do I pay for my winning bids?

Deposits can be made conveniently on the RealAuction website using the ACH (Electronic Check) payment wizard. Cash, cashier’s checks and money orders are also accepted, but please keep in mind that these forms of payment must be delivered to the Clerk’s Office in Room 1260 of the Duval County Courthouse. Also please note that deposits must be made by 4:00 p.m. the day before the sale.

Payments can be made in the Tax Deed Department by cash, cashier’s check or money order, made payable to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. A second method is also available, "Deposit Payment," which will only display if the bidder has sufficient funds to cover the remaining balance. Final payments must be made be made by 4:00 p.m. the day after the sale.

What liens or encumbrances survive against a property after it is sold at a Tax Deed sale?

It’s helpful to know that governmental liens and judgments survive the issuance of a Tax Deed and are satisfied to the fullest extent possible with any overbid monies from the sale. Governmental liens that are not satisfied in full will survive the issuance of a Tax Deed and will still remain against the property. We recommend strongly that you research the properties before the sale day so you will understand what you are purchasing. You should check for liens, zoning, restrictive covenants, etc. For your convenience, the Tax Deed file may be viewed at Clerk Tax Deeds Public Viewer

If I am the successful bidder at the sale, what do I need to do?

If you are the successful bidder on a piece of property, your required non-refundable deposit will be automatically deducted from your online account, and the balance of your bid must be paid by 4:00 p.m. the following day. You may make this payment in Room 1260 of the Duval County Courthouse. The balance must be paid by cash or cashier’s check made payable to the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

If you’re the successful bidder, you will also be required to pay recording and documentary stamp fees. The recording fee is $10.00 for the first page and, if an attachment is required, an additional $8.50 per page. The documentary stamps are based on the high bid. They will be calculated for you and should be included in the email sent to you by RealAuction. There is a $1.00 per-party indexing fee for deeds with more than four people or entities listed as titleholder.

Deeds will be recorded in the name provided by the bidder on the auction website under the name on the title. We ask that you please verify this information when you make full payment to assure that it is correct. It will be the bidder’s responsibility to make any corrections after the deed has been recorded. Please note that deeds are recorded seven to 10 business days after the sale.

What if I am the successful bidder and fail to return with the payment?

As stated in Florida Statutes, Section 197.542(1), "the Clerk may refuse to recognize the bid of any person who has previously bid and refused, for any reason, to honor such bid". It’s important to understand that this means those individuals will lose their five-percent deposit and will no longer be allowed to bid at future Tax Deed sales.

Can other participants see my bids?

No, they can’t. Bids are treated confidentially.

How does the bidding work? What is a proxy bid?

It’s actually simpler than it may sound. People bidding in an auction enter their highest acceptable bid for a property. The auction system then checks all other bids and enters a bid on your behalf at $100 more than the next highest bidder (this is called proxy bidding). The system stops entering bids for you when your highest acceptable bid is reached. When an auction closes, each property is awarded to the participant with the highest bid.

What happens in case of a tie bid?

If identical bids are placed before the auction start date and time, the first participant to place the bid will be considered to hold the official high bid. Tie bids are not allowed once the auction begins.

Can I change or cancel my bid?

Yes, you can. Bids may be cancelled or modified (raised or lowered) at any time before the auction officially begins for that case. But once an auction begins, bids may only be increased. Please understand that cancelling or lowering a bid during a live auction is not permitted.

Do I get a clear title with a Tax Deed?

That depends. You see, Tax Deed properties are sold on a “buyer-beware” basis. The clerk will issue a Tax Deed to transfer ownership to the successful bidder, but it is not a guarantee of clear title. It is the bidder’s responsibility to determine whether there are any liens or other encumbrances that will survive the Tax Deed sale. The buyer should also investigate whether additional taxes may be due or if further legal action is necessary. To obtain clear title, you will have to file a “Quiet-Title” suit in the Civil Court system. The fees required to file this suit are above and beyond the bidder’s purchase price.

Can the former property owner get the property back even after it is sold at a Tax Deed sale?

The short answer is yes. As with many things, the purchaser of a Tax Deed should have a “buyer-beware” attitude. If the former owner disputes the sale and takes the case to court, the judge will decide the ownership of the property. It’s always best to consult an attorney regarding the purchase of any property.

It’s also a good idea to check the property thoroughly prior to the sale so you’ll know exactly what you are getting. The clerk is unable to make any warranty or representation regarding the quality or character of the title you receive. We hope you’ll understand that matters such as land use, access to the property, zoning, physical and environmental conditions, and the suitability of the lot for building are outside the scope of the duties and responsibilities of the Clerk’s Office. These and many other matters are issues that the high bidder accepts responsibility for. The obligation to resolve, investigate or determine them are not considered the duty of the clerk.

If I am the successful bidder at a Tax Deed auction, am I entitled to immediate possession of the property after a Tax Deed has been issued to me?

This can be answered by Section 197.542 of the Florida Statutes: "Any person, firm, corporation, or county that is the grantee of any Tax Deed under this law shall be entitled to the immediate possession of the lands described in the deed. If demand for possession is refused, the purchaser may apply to the circuit court for a writ of assistance upon 5 days' notice directed to the person refusing to deliver possession. Upon service of the responsive pleadings, if any, the matter shall proceed as in chancery cases. If the court finds for the applicant, an order shall be issued by the court directing the sheriff to put the grantee in possession of the lands."

How is the amount of the opening bid determined?

If the property is not homestead property, the amount of the opening bid equals the total of several items: the unpaid taxes and interest, the Tax Collector’s administration fees, the Clerk of Circuit Court administration fees, and the expenditure fees required by the Florida Statutes to bring the property to delinquent tax sale. On the other hand, if the property is homestead property, half of the assessed value from the tax roll is added to the above amounts to arrive at the total opening bid.

What happens to leftover deposit money?

Unused deposit money may be used to pay for winnings by clicking on “Make Payment” and following the steps indicated. A refund may be requested by clicking on “Request Refund” from the Home Page, under the Funds Transfer menu category. During this process you will select the refund method (ACH or check).

Refunds for deposits not made by ACH will be in the form of a paper check mailed from the Clerk's Office to the bidder's registered name and address. Please allow approximately two weeks after the close of the auction for the processing of refunds.

How do I request a refund?

To request a refund, simply click “Request Refund.” That’s all you have to do. And please remember that funds on deposit are returned only when requested.

What happens to property that is not sold?

If the applicant is a person or company and there are no bids, a Tax Deed will be issued to the applicant, who will then be responsible for paying the recording fees and documentary stamps. If the applicant is the City of Jacksonville, the city will have 30 days to purchase the property. If the city does not purchase the property, it will then be placed on the “List of Lands Available.” After that happens, it may be purchased. The purchase price will be the minimum bid plus any taxes that are due at the time of purchase, plus interest. For your convenience, there is a list of these properties available for $1.00 per page in Room 1260 of the Duval County Courthouse.

For more information, we invite you to see the Lands Available FAQs

Traffic

What is a civil traffic violation?

A civil traffic infraction is a non-criminal charge that can usually be disposed of by the payment of a civil penalty or an election to attend Driver Improvement School. Examples of civil charges include:

  • Pedestrian violations
  • Bicycle violations
  • Non-moving violations such as failure to wear your seat belt; not carrying your driver’s license, registration or insurance card; expired registration less than six months; or expired driver’s license less than six months;
  • Moving violations such as speeding; running a red light or stop sign; careless driving; child-restraint violations; or failing to maintain a single lane

Which citations require a mandatory court appearance?

The following charges require you to attend a court hearing:

  • Leaving a child in an unattended vehicle
  • Load dropping/shifting
  • Accident involving serious bodily injury
  • Accident involving a fatality
  • Passing on entrance/exit side of school bus
  • Speed 30+ MPH in excess of posted speed limits

What are the procedures for handling a citation for failure to carry or display a driver’s license, registration and/or a license tag?

If the item was valid at the time you were issued the citation, you may provide proof of your valid item to the Clerk’s Office at the time of payment. You will need to include a $10.00 dismissal fee and a copy of your citation. The Clerk’s Office will then dismiss the charge.

What are the procedures for handling a citation for failure to carry proof of insurance?

If you have proof that your insurance was valid at the time the citation was issued, you may provide proof of your valid insurance coverage along with the $10.00 dismissal fee and a copy of your citation to the Clerk's Office. Proof of insurance can be provided in the form of an insurance card, policy declarations page, certificate of insurance, or in electronic form. The Clerk's Office will then dismiss the charge.  If your insurance was not valid at the time the citation was issued, you can either request a court date or pay the citation.  Payment of the citation is considered a conviction.

Note: Upon payment of no proof of motor vehicle insurance, a guilty plea (conviction) is entered with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). As a result of the conviction, DHSMV will suspend the violator’s driving privilege for 3 months. DHSMV may place a hold on any vehicle tag renewals.

How do I change my court date for my civil traffic citation?

The Clerk's Office does not have the authority to change court dates. 

The Clerk’s Office is prohibited by law from offering legal advice. If you think you need legal advice, please speak with an attorney.

How can I get my driver’s license reinstated?

You will be required to pay a reinstatement fee of $60.00, as well as the amount due for the civil infraction and the required delinquent fee. If there are other reasons for the suspension, you will need to go to a Tax Collector’s Office to reinstate your license.

Can I pay my out-of-county traffic citation at a Duval County Clerk’s Office?

No. Citations must be paid in the county they were issued.

What should I do if I change my address?

A complete copy of the Florida Driver's Handbook is available online at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ website and it gives instruction on how to change your address.

What forms of payment are acceptable for a traffic citation?

Payment can be made in the form of money order, cashier's check and certified check if paying by mail. If paying in person, we also accept cash and credit cards in the form of Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Debit Cards are processed as credit. Please note there is a non-refundable 3.5% service fee on all credit card payments.

Can I pay my city parking citation at the Duval County Clerk’s Office?

No. The Clerk’s Office cannot accept these payments. Parking citations are issued by the Public Parking Division and can be paid at any Duval County Tax Collector’s Office.

Does attending Driver Improvement School keep the citation off my driving record?

No. The citation will appear on your full driving record however, it will show that adjudication was withheld. No points will be assessed.

Can I elect to attend Driver Improvement School after I have paid my citation?

No, election must be made at the time the citation is paid.

Does attending Driver Improvement School keep my insurance rates down?

We cannot answer that question and suggest that you consult your insurance company for this information.

Where can I find a list of Driver Improvement Schools?

For basic driver improvement courses, please visit the State of Florida DHSMV's Basic Driver Improvement Course listing or check online for any state of Florida certified Driver Improvement School.

Will the Driver Improvement School notify the Clerk’s Office when I have completed the class?

No. It is your responsibility to provide proof of completion to the Clerk's Office within 60 days from the date of election.