Florida Criminal Appeals and Post-Conviction
Former Prosecutor with 27 Years of Experience
Appeals Lawyer
Former Prosecutor with 27 Years of Experience
Appeals Lawyer

Can I appeal my case to the Florida Supreme Court?

Can I appeal my case to the Florida Supreme Court?

The Florida Supreme Court recently issued several opinions that make it harder for a criminal defendant to appeal his or her case. The justices in Tallahassee have also made it more difficult for defendants in the lower court. Unfortunately, this trend continues. Not every criminal appeal is successful. Sometimes the law is against you, sometimes the facts, and all too often, the trial lawyer missed an issue. An appeal in the District Court can be presented to the Florida Supreme Court, but only in limited circumstances.  This occurs when there is a written opinion and discretionary grounds for the court to accept jurisdiction.

The most common type in criminal appeals involves direct and express conflicts with decisions from other Florida District Courts or the Florida Supreme Court. This is rather difficult to meet because it requires express language from the Florida appeals court certifying a conflict. However, skilled criminal appeals lawyers know about a “loophole” that allows the Florida Supreme Court to accept conflict jurisdiction, called misapplication conflict.  This means the appellate court simply misapplied the ruling from another appeals court. Unfortunately, this loophole was closed in May 2024 by the Florida Supreme Court.

After allowing this type of jurisdiction for over 50 years, the court receded from this nuance in the law and issued an opinion in Askew v. Florida Dept. of Children and Families. The court explained: “we acknowledge the flaws in our misapplication jurisprudence and recognize that we overstepped our constitutional authority by applying this theory of conflict jurisdiction. [We now hold] misapplication alone is not sufficient to trigger conflict jurisdiction under article V, section 3(b)(3) of our constitution.”  This will effectively negate the ability to appeal most criminal cases to the Florida Supreme Court. But is there a loophole to this new case? The Court did say “misapplication alone” will be insufficient to invoke jurisdiction. Will the word “alone” leave the door open for jurisdiction if a misapplication of law is shown and another factor exists?

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