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The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office’s Guide to Public Records Requests

 

How may I make a public records request?

Requests may be made by contacting the State Attorney’s Office’s Records Custodian, or her staff in the Records Unit, by phone at 305-547-0246, by email at HeatherSherman@MiamiSAO.comFrancesFaccidomo@MiamiSAO.comor LornaSalomon@MiamiSAO.com, or in writing to:

State Attorney’s Office • Records Custodian

1350 N.W. 12th Avenue

Miami, Florida 33136

 

Must my request be in writing?

Public records requests do not have to be made in writing unless specifically required by a statute. However, the State Attorney’s Office receives many public records requests and to help us better focus on securing the records you seek, we ask you to voluntarily make your request in writing. This provides us with a specific list of what you seek, and helps us provide you a pertinent and accurate response. It is a good practice to be as specific and precise as you can when making a public records request. Making a request in writing also allows us to seek clarification if your request appears very broad or is too general to allow an appropriate response.

 

Will I receive acknowledgment of my public records request?

The State Attorney’s Office’s Records Unit promptly acknowledges each received public records request. If you make a request and do not receive an acknowledgment within seventy-two (72) hours, please contact the State Attorney’s Office’s Records Custodian, or her staff, by phone at 305-547-0246, by email at HeatherSherman@MiamiSAO.com, FrancesFaccidomo@MiamiSAO.com, or LornaSalomon@MiamiSAO.com, to verify that we did in fact receive your request.

 

Does the State Attorney’s Office have to respond to a broadly-stated request?

The State Attorney’s Office is obligated by law to respond to your request in good faith. If your request is broad, you may have to pay a large amount to cover the costs of the response (see below for cost breakdown). Sometimes a request is too broad for the State Attorney’s Office to identify any particular set of records to provide as a response. In that case, a member of the Records Unit may discuss your request to see if it can be revised to be more specific.

 

Does the State Attorney’s Office honor standing requests?

No. Upon receipt of a public records request, the State Attorney’s Office must comply by producing all non-exempt documents in our custody that are responsive to the request, upon payment. However, this mandate applies only to those documents in the custody of the State Attorney’s Office at the time of the request. The State Attorney’s Office is not required to, and cannot, respond to a so-called standing request for production of public records that it may receive or produce in the future.

 

Is there a cost to obtain records?

There are costs to public records requests. The State Attorney’s Office does not waive costs for indigent requestors. Pursuant to Section 119.07(4)(a), Florida Statutes, the State Attorney’s Office will impose the following fees:

  • Duplicated copies – 15 cents per one-sided copy
  • CD – 10 dollars per CD
  • DVD • 15 dollars per DVD
  • Flash Drive • 15-35 dollars per flash drive
  • All other copies – Actual cost of duplication of the record (cost of materials and supplies used to duplicate the record, not including labor cost or overhead cost associated with such duplication)
  • Labor • for requests which require extensive labor to complete. See below.

 

Can additional costs be assessed regarding a public records request?

Yes. The State Attorney’s Office will charge the statutory extensive use charge for any request requiring extensive time to complete. Pursuant to Section 119.07(4)(d), Florida Statutes, if the nature or volume of the public records requested to be inspected, examined, or copied is such as to require extensive use of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance by personnel, or both, a charge in addition to the actual cost of duplication will be assessed. Regarding labor costs, the State Attorney’s Office currently assesses a charge for personnel time: a minimum of forty (40) dollars an hour for attorney time, twenty (20) dollars an hour for non-attorney time. No labor charge is assessed for non-extensive personnel efforts. What is considered to require extensive use of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance by personnel, or both is determined on the basis of the required response to each public records request. In general, the narrower, and more focused your public records request can be, the less likely that extensive costs will become a factor.

Since as a state agency the State Attorney’s Office cannot extend credit, the State Attorney’s Office will require a deposit to cover all of the costs estimated under Section 119.07(1)(b) before it begins the extensive use of resources or personnel as used in the statute. If you have previously received public records but have not paid the costs associated with that response, the State Attorney’s Office will not provide records for subsequent requests until such time as the due amounts have been paid.

 

Does the State Attorney’s Office have to create a record if I request it?

No. Florida’s public records law does not obligate agencies to create records. It requires agencies to make available to the public copies of the public records it already has.

 

Does the State Attorney’s Office have to answer questions I have about what is stated in records?

No. Florida’s public records law obligates agencies to provide copies of public records. It does not require agencies to explain records or answer questions based on the records’ content.

 

What records are exempt?

Section 119.071, Florida Statutes, and other sections of the Florida Statutes define which records are exempt from inspection or copying. Please note, active criminal intelligence information and active criminal investigative information are among the statutory exemptions.

 

How long will my request take?

All public records requests are responded to within a reasonable amount of time once the records have been retrieved, reviewed and redacted if necessary to prevent confidential or exempt information from being disclosed. The State Attorney’s Office’s Records Unit receives requests from all over the nation (and internationally). As Miami-Dade County experiences many arrests and is a top tourist destination, the State Attorney’s Office’s Records Unit receives many media and other public records request. Requests are handled in the order in which they are received.

 

Can I impose a response deadline upon my request?

No. Agencies are obligated to respond to public records requests reasonably and promptly. Requests, and the amount of effort an agency puts forth to respond to them. vary greatly. Your request will be handled as promptly as possible. Notably, the State Attorney’s Office’s Records Unit receives requests from all over the nation (and internationally). As Miami-Dade County experiences many arrests and is a top tourist destination, the State Attorney’s Office’s Records Unit receives many media and other public records request. Requests are handled in the order in which they are received.

 

Who should I contact if I have questions or issues with the response I received?

Heather Sherman, Frances Faccidomo, and/or Lorna Salomon are the State Attorney’s Office’s Public Records contact persons.

State Attorney’s Office

1350 N.W. 12th Avenue

Miami, Florida 33136

Email: HeatherSherman@MiamiSAO.com

FrancesFaccidomo@MiamiSAO.com

LornaSalomon@MiamiSAO.com

Phone: 305-547-0246

 

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