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Florida > The Florida Election Code > Election Code: Violations; Penalties

§ 104.271 False or malicious charges against, or false statements about, opposing candidates; penalty.


(1) Any candidate who, in a primary election or other election, willfully charges an opposing candidate participating in such election with a violation of any provision of this code, which charge is known by the candidate making such charge to be false or malicious, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083 and, in addition, after conviction shall be disqualified to hold office.

(2) Any candidate who, in a primary election or other election, with actual malice makes or causes to be made any statement about an opposing candidate which is false is guilty of a violation of this code. An aggrieved candidate may file a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission pursuant to s. 106.25. The commission shall adopt rules to provide an expedited hearing of complaints filed under this subsection. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the commission shall assess a civil penalty of up to $5,000 against any candidate found in violation of this subsection, which shall be deposited to the account of the General Revenue Fund of the state.


s. 44, ch. 28156, 1953; s. 48, ch. 71-136; s. 27, ch. 77-104; s. 35, ch. 77-175; s. 1, ch. 85-210; s. 627, ch. 95-147; s. 44, ch. 97-13.

Annotation: October 12, 2016 1:16 am

The Commission does not have the authority to investigate on its own. The opposing candidate must first file a complaint.

Definition [Primary Election]

An election held preceding the general election for the purpose of nominating a party nominee to be voted for in the general election to fill a national, state, county, or district office. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(29).

Definition [Election]

Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).

Definition [Candidate]

Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:

(a) Any person who seeks to qualify for nomination or election by means of the petitioning process.
(b) Any person who seeks to qualify for election as a write-in candidate.
(c) Any person who receives contributions or makes expenditures, or gives his or her consent for any other person to receive contributions or make expenditures, with a view to bringing about his or her nomination or election to, or retention in, public office.
(d) Any person who appoints a treasurer and designates a primary depository.
(e) Any person who files qualification papers and subscribes to a candidate’s oath as required by law.
This definition does not include any candidate for a political party executive committee. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(6).