The history of eminent domain dates from the first limits on sovereign power contained in the Magna Carta of 1215. From that date forward, the power of the Government to arbitrarily seize the property of a private person, without appropriate compensation, was an idea who’s time had passed.
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution restated the rights declared in 1215 as follows: “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor be obliged to relinquish his property, where it may be necessary for public use, without a just compensation.”
In it’s current form, eminent domain is alive and well in the State of Florida. Should the government (or any other entity empowered by the government) meet the requirements of law, they can obtain a Court Order compelling the sale of private property, with or without the property owner’s consent. In essence, the private property owner can be legally deprived of the right to say “no” to the sale of his property. Nonetheless, although the concept of eminent domain can be easily summarized, the application of the concept in the real world is often complex and full of pitfalls for the inexperienced or the unwary.
However harsh the application of eminent domain appears, Florida Law does provide significant protections for an affected property owner; but these are only effective if the property owner is well-informed and adequately prepared to go head-to-head with the full power of the government.
Few property owners can undertake to battle the significant power and resources of the government by themselves. Florida law, however, allows a property owner to be professionally represented by an attorney of his/her choice, and to engage the services of the expert witnesses necessary to prove the amount which constitutes full and just compensation for what the government has taken. Under virtually all circumstances, the property owner will not have to pay for these services. It therefore makes sense to hire only the most experienced and effective advocates to present your claim.