TBD | How-To Guide: DOAH Certificate of Indigence
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How-To: Get Free Access to the Law from DOAH

Background: You are litigating a case at DOAH
Problem: You cannot afford legal costs/fees (eg. subpoenas, appellate fees, etc.)
Solution: You ask DOAH to give you a Certificate of Civil Indigence

I. Legal Citations

§57.081 Florida Statute | Costs; right to proceed where prepayment of costs and payment of filing fees waived.
"(1) Any indigent person, except a prisoner as defined in s. 57.085, who is a party or intervenor in any judicial or administrative agency proceeding or who initiates such proceeding shall receive the services of the courts, sheriffs, and clerks, with respect to such proceedings, despite his or her present inability to pay for these services..."


"(3) If an applicant prevails in an action, costs shall be taxed in his or her favor as provided by law and, when collected, shall be applied to pay filing fees or costs that have not been paid."
§57.082 Florida Statute | Determination of Civil Indigent Status.
"(1) A person [seeking relief] from payment of filing fees and prepayment of costs under s. 57.081, based upon an inability to pay must apply to the clerk of the court for a determination of civil indigent status..."


"(2)(a)1. An applicant, including an applicant who is a minor or an adult tax-dependent person, is indigent if the applicant’s income is equal to or below 200 percent of the then-current federal poverty guidelines..."


"(2)(a)2. There is a presumption that the applicant is not indigent if the applicant owns, or has equity in, any intangible or tangible personal property or real property or the expectancy of an interest in any such property having a net equity value of $2,500 or more..."


"(2)(d) The duty of the clerk in determining whether an applicant is indigent is limited to receiving the application and comparing the information provided in the application to the criteria prescribed in this subsection. The determination of indigent status is a ministerial act of the clerk and may not be based on further investigation or the exercise of independent judgment by the clerk."

II. Samples

# PDF Comments
1¿Unknown Result? DOAH | Income = $168 | Expenses = $356 | Bank = ¿? | Uncommon form.
2✓ Granted. DOAH | Income = $888 | Expenses = ¿? | Bank = $0 | Social Security.
3✓ Granted. DOAH | Income = ¿? | Expenses = ¿? | Bank = ¿? | Letter instead of application.
4✓ Granted. DOAH | Income = $1,242 | Expenses = $1,364 | Bank = $300 | Old form (2008).
5✓ Granted. DOAH | Income = $669 | Expenses = $1,687 | Bank = $0 | Old form (2009).

III. Templates

# Word Comments
1TBD's Template. Tested & Approved.

IV. Quick Commentary

  • DOAH will not investigate the veracity of your application.
  • DOAH will not consult additional information in determining your indigence.
  • Critical Note: Your application for civil indigence is submitted under Penalty of Perjury!
  • Please download as many sample documents as you'd like
  • Proofread your application as much as possible.
  • Save the final version as a PDF file.
  • File your application with DOAH.
  • Await DOAH's "Certificate of Civil Indigency".
  • Use the certificate where necessary.
    • For Subpoenas (ie, send certificate to the Sheriffs)
    • For Appeals (ie, file the certificate to the appellate clerk)
  • IF YOU WIN then DOAH will tax you for the free services you received. Example A:
    • John Doe sues ABC Co at DOAH. John Doe is poor.
    • DOAH certifies John Doe's application for civil indigence.
    • John Doe racks up $1,000 in legal fees (pertinent to his case).
    • John Doe wins his case.
      • DOAH orders ABC Co to pay John Doe $10,000.
      • John Doe pays $1,000 back to the legal system.
      • John Doe receives the remaining $9,000.
  • IF YOU LOSE you still pay nothing. Example B:
    • John Doe sues ABC Co at DOAH. John doe is poor.
    • DOAH certifies John Doe's application for civil indigence.
    • John Doe racks up $1,000 in legal fees (pertinent to his case).
    • John Doe loses his case.

V. Additional Notes

  • Total Time needed ≈ 0-1 hours
  • Instead of filing your application with the Court, you might be able to email/mail it directly to DOAH's clerk.
  • You do NOT need to send a copy directly to your civil opponent(s). You're not required to. Plus, they can get the certificate from the court docket.

VI. Conclusion

If you cannot afford the standard legal fees associated with your DOAH case, DOAH may provide you a Certificate of Civil Indigence. Thereby eliminating your need to prepay.

Congratulations! You're now booked up on how to get DOAH to waive your legal fees!

Please get the justice you deserve.


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