Florida

(information last updated Fall 2017)

Ongoing Projects:

Federal Project Operating in the State:

EPA supports the Florida Keys Water Watch, a program of the University of Florida IFAS Monroe County Extension.  See Florida Keys Water Watch, University of Florida IFAS Monroe County Extension, http://monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/environment/florida_keys_water_watch.shtml (last visited Apr. 3, 2017).  The program enlists volunteers to monitor water quality in coastal habitats.  See id.  In order to participate, volunteers must attend a four-hour workshop.  See id.

State Project:

A regional office of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has partnered with local volunteer groups to create the Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network, which trains volunteers on data collection protocols, and sends them out to monitor water quality once a month.  See Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network, Fla. Dep’t of Envtl. Protection, http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/charlotte/volunteer/waterquality.htm (last visited Apr. 3, 2017).  We were unable to find statutory authorization for the network, which DEP appears to have created on its own initiative.

Collection of Information:

Drone Law:

See infra “Drone Laws.”

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No. Notice against trespassing must be given by “posting, fencing, or cultivation.”  Fla. Stat. § 810.09.

Other Provisions:

Trespass against “commercial horticulture property,” an “agricultural site for testing or research purposes,” or an “agricultural chemicals manufacturing facility” is a felony.  Fla. Stat. § 810.09 9(e)–(f), (i).

 

See infra “Drone Laws.”

Drone Laws:

Law:

“(3) Prohibited use of drones. — (b) A person, a state agency, or a political subdivision . . . may not use a drone equipped with an imaging device to record an image of privately owned real property . . . with the intent to conduct surveillance on the . . . property captured in the image in violation of such person’s reasonable expectation of privacy without his or her written consent.  For purposes of this section, a person is presumed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy on his or her privately owned real property if he or she is not observable by persons located at ground level in a place where they have a legal right to be, regardless of whether he or she is observable from the air with the use of a drone.”  Fla. Stat. § 934.50.

Exception:

“(4) EXCEPTIONS. — This section does not prohibit the use of a drone: . . . (d) By a person or an entity engaged in a business or profession licensed by the state, or by an agent, employee, or contractor thereof, if the drone is used only to perform reasonable tasks within the scope of practice or activities permitted under such person’s or entity’s license.  However, this exception does not apply to a profession in which the licensee’s authorized scope of practice includes obtaining information about the identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation, or character of any society, person, or group of persons; . . . (f) To capture images by or for an electric, water, or natural gas utility; for conducting environmental monitoring, as provided by federal, state, or local law, rule, or permit; … (g) For aerial mapping, if the person or entity using a drone for this purpose is operating in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.”  Fla. Stat. § 934.50.

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree.”  Fla. Stat. § 784.048.

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions could be construed to prohibit the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Prohibits:

“Evidence obtained or collected in violation of this act [which prohibits the recording of images of private property by a drone without written consent] is not admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution in any court of law in this state.”  Fla. Stat. § 934.50(6).

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires a description of “the ultimate facts showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”  Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.110.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

 

“Authentication or identification of evidence is required as a condition precedent to its admissibility. The requirements of this section are satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”  Fla. Stat. § 90.901.

Expert Testimony:

Daubert standard.  See Hernandez v. State, 180 So. 3d 978, 1008 (Fla. 2015).

Discussion

Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.