Last updated: October 21, 2013
Tampa is growing, and there are bound to be some growing pains. People are flocking to Cigar City, and for good reason. We're developing a reputation for being a great place for adults under 40, and there's an outdoor culture that encourages a healthy lifestyle. But you can bet that with that mix of young people, new commerce, and physical activity, there's going to be a lot more legal activity as well. You may find yourself going to court, and this guide to our courts will help you take care of business.
Throughout most of the United States, you will find at least two court systems everywhere you go: state court and federal court. Tampa and the State of Florida are no different. In the state's system, state courts in Florida are divided into judicial circuits which may hear any case not specifically reserved for federal courts.
Tampa and Hillsborough County make up Florida's Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. Within each judicial circuit, there are courts of two different levels: (1) Circuit Courts, and (2) County Courts. The difference between the two is that County Courts tend to handle cases that are relatively minor. See the State's diagram of court jurisdiction for further illustration. In the federal system, the trial-level courts are divided amongst "districts," and Tampa sits in the Middle District of Florida. A case must qualify to be heard in federal court. See a Tampa attorney for details.
This courthouse is the primary location for Hillsborough County court activity. It handles every type of matter that Florida's state courts are allowed to hear. If you're visiting the courthouse, park in the structure immediately east of the entrance. There are also metered spaces on the street for people who have to make a quick trip inside (if there is such a thing).
If you live in East County, you may find it more convenient visit the Plant City Office Building for some court functions. Check with your attorney to know your options.
Go to this facility like you're headed to the Edgecomb Courthouse. Walk through the glass doors at the corner of Jefferson and Twiggs, and the Annex is to you left. You'll notice that all of the court's activity is essentially in the same complex. Take the upstairs walkway to the Annex building which sits across the street from the entrance.
This facility can get pretty busy. It closes at 5:00 P.M., so you must be in line 30 minutes prior to receive service that day. You can always skip the line and pay citations online.
When you enter, you'll have to proceed through security screening which includes a metal detector and an x-ray machine. Leave all electronics, including phones and laptops, in the car, because they aren't allowed without a court order. Park in one of the nearby lots if you're going to be in court for a while. All of the street parking is metered.