A code compliance notice might seem like it is not that big of a deal. After all, there are many items that people are notified of that might allow you a few weeks to get back to them and deal with them. Even speeding tickets are not handled as an immediate concern in most states.
Code compliance notices cannot be taken lightly in Florida, and you should be sure to take immediate action when you receive one. There are many serious penalties if you do not meet the deadlines laid out in your code compliance notice, and you will want to avoid all of them by being prompt in your response to this warning. Code compliance notices are one of the more serious violations of Florida law, and you need to be cautious about handling these compliance issues properly and promptly.
If you are ready to learn more about if you should hire an attorney to represent you at your code compliance hearing, you need to keep reading.
What is a Code Compliance Notice?
This notice is provided to those who have violated the health, security, welfare, public services, or ordinances of their county or their city. These notices are meant to prevent issues that lead to a lack of safety or a risk to public health in each city in Florida. They can also be intended to protect property values by keeping renters or property owners from impacting the overall pleasantness of the neighborhood as a whole.
An enforcement board keeps track of the deadlines and notices that are handed out in Florida and you will need to at least reach out to the board if you have gotten notice and are not sure how to proceed. The more responsive you are, the more likely you will be to get leniency from the board if you run into issues resolving the problem that led to the code compliance notice.
Common code compliance issues are vehicle abandonment, vacant or unsecured lots, structures that are too close to property lines, construction without a permit, unsafe structures, overgrown yard or clutter, zoning violations, breeding of undomesticated animals, waste dumping without a permit, and more. Many of these issues can be very expensive to remedy, and you will need to be sure that you take the notice seriously, especially if the notice is for something very expensive to resolve.
What if I Miss a Deadline?
When you miss a deadline or you ignore your code compliance notice, your case will be looked at by the special magistrate. This happens after you do not show up for your code compliance hearing. You will be given a set amount of time to remedy your violation before a fine is imposed on each day that the violation continues. This can really add up, and you do not want to risk this outcome. The fines can be as high as $1,000 a day.
This is one of the main reasons that people seek the assistance of a lawyer in their code compliance case, but it is always better to make sure that you attend to the notice well before you have missed your hearing. Even making contact with the board will help prevent additional daily fines in your case, even if you miss your hearing. You will need to be sure that you start making a plan as soon as you are served this notice to make sure that it gets attended to before fines start piling up.
Can You Represent Yourself at Your Code Compliance Hearing?
You can choose to represent yourself at your code compliance hearing, but there are many reasons why this is not a good idea. The codes for most areas are very complex, and you might not be able to resolve your issue through a simple solution. It can be easy to make adjustments that you think will take care of the code violation, only to find that you have not done enough to remove the problem per code standards.
In addition, some code violation notices are not accurate, and you might not actually be violating code in the way that your notice claims. This can happen when a neighbor has an issue with you personally or when a confusing report is passed to the board. You will need to remember that it can be tough to make a good case for yourself without the support of a legal expert, and if your code violation is complex, you might not be able to deal with the issue on your own.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Represent You At Your Hearing
One of the main reasons that you need to hire an attorney for your compliance hearing is that you will need to prepare a defense package before you come to court. Not every offense requires this, but in most cases, you need to put forth your code enforcement package at least a week before your enforcement hearing. When this is not completed, you can face issues with getting a fair judgment for your case.
You should be sure not to wait until a few days before your hearing to hire an attorney since this necessary step can take a few days to complete. You will want to keep in mind that this necessary documentation is critical to the process of your hearing, and it should be completed correctly for the best results in your case. This can be a complicated process if you have more than one violation of code involved in your notice as well. All of the violations need to be covered in the documentation, and this can be hard to do if you are not a legal professional with experience in this area.
You might also need the help of a lawyer if you are not sure that you can correct the code violation by the set deadline. Some issues can be expensive to deal with and if you are not able to put forth the money to make changes to remove the violation, you will need a lawyer to help you to get an extension for your efforts. Your lawyer can also sometimes get you a mitigation of fines due to your circumstances.
When you try to make accommodations to your case on your own, you will be unlikely to succeed. Having a lawyer on your side can make all the difference when you are trying to seek a reduction of fines or an increase in the time that is needed to get the violation sorted out. Lawyers who are skilled in this area of law can help you to get the time that you need to fix the issues that cause the code violation, and they can also help you to save some money on fines if possible.
Lastly, if you have not reached out to the board or you have missed a deadline, you will definitely need the help of a lawyer to try and get your case back on track. The more mistakes that you have made, the less likely you will be to get a favorable outcome for your case or forgiveness for fines or deadlines. You will want to have a legal professional working on your case just to make sure that none of these worst-case scenarios impact your trial and the fines and deadlines that you have to meet and pay.
If you need to make an appeal for your case’s outcome, you will also need a lawyer to help you to handle this need. You will not be likely to know how to put together the documents to argue that your case was not handled properly. A lawyer can help you with this process so that you can attempt to successfully make the decision that has been made in your case.
Work With a Skilled Lawyer For Your Code Violation
If you have been given a code compliance violation, you will want to consider getting the help of a lawyer for your case. There are very few compliance violations that are simple to deal with, and if you have more than one violation on your notice, you will not want to handle this on your own. Getting a lawyer to help you with your case can make all the difference if you need help mitigating fines or if you need more time to handle the corrections that are needed to make fixes to your property. A lawyer can also help you to appeal your case if it has been adjudicated incorrectly the first time.
No matter what kind of code violation you have been faced with, you will almost always need some time and money saved up to fix the issue involved. Many code violations are complicated to resolve, and you should not attempt to tempt fate by going it alone. Contact us today if you need help with your code compliance case and schedule your free consultation.