What Florida Law Provides for Victims
Florida Law provides for the fair treatment of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems. It authorizes assistance to victims of adult and juvenile crime. It provides victims the opportunity to have a defendant tested for HIV if there was a transmission of body fluids during the crime. It also designates a Victims Compensation Trust Fund to assist victims of violent personal crimes to pay for stipulated expenses they incur as a result of the crime.
Below is a useful pamphlet outlining the rights listed below, as well as the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Crime Victims Have the right:
- To assert victims’ rights as provided by law or the State Constitution. The victim of a crime and the State Attorney, with the consent of the victim, have standing to assert the rights of the crime victim which are provided by law or s.16(b)Art. 1 of the State Constitution.
- To information regarding the availability of funds through Victim Crime Compensation, when applicable.
- To information about community-based treatment programs, crisis intervention services, counseling, and social services.
- To information on the role of the victim in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice process.
- To information about the stages in the Criminal or Juvenile Justice process which are of significance to the victim and how such information can be obtained.
- To be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevant, at all crucial stages of a Criminal or Juvenile proceeding, to the extent that right does not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
- To be informed and to submit written statements at all crucial stages of the criminal, juvenile and parole proceedings if the victim is incarcerated.
- To the prompt and timely disposition of the case, to the extent that this right does not interfere with the Constitutional rights of the accused.
- To information concerning the steps available to law enforcement and the State Attorney to protect the victim or witness from intimidation.
- To be notified as soon as possible by the agency scheduling your appearance in a Criminal or Juvenile Justice proceeding of any change in scheduling which will affect your appearance.
- To receive advance notification of the arrest, the release, or modification of the release conditions and proceedings in the prosecution or petition for delinquency of the accused.
- To be consulted by the Assistant State Attorney in order to obtain the views of the victim or family about: the release of the accused pending a judicial proceeding, plea agreements, participation in pretrial diversion programs, and the sentencing of the accused in those felony and juvenile cases that involved physical or emotional injury or trauma.
- To have your property returned to you as soon as possible unless there is a compelling law enforcement need to retain it.
- To have your employer or creditors informed that your cooperation with a criminal prosecution may cause absences or financial hardship.
- To request restitution and to be notified if restitution is ordered by the Court and to receive information on how to enforce the court’s order of restitution.
- To submit an oral or written Victim Impact Statement describing how the crime affected you and your family. The Assistant State Attorney will assist in the preparation of such statement if necessary.
- To have any special needs accommodated as is practical. (For instance: physical handicap parking, or translator services)
- To be notified if the offender escapes from a state correctional facility or involuntary commitment facility.
- To have a Victim Advocate present during any depositions of the victim.
- To request that the Assistant State Attorney permit the victim to review a copy of the present investigation report prior to the sentencing hearing if one is completed.
- To request that the court clear the courtroom of all persons, with certain exceptions, during his or her testimony concerning a sexual offense, regardless of the victim’s age or mental capacity.
- To request, for specific crimes, an exemption prohibiting the disclosure of information to the public which reveals your identification, home and work phone numbers, home and work addresses, and personal assets not otherwise held confidential under the Public Records Law.
- To know, in certain cases, at the earliest possible opportunity, if the person charged with an offense has tested positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. Upon request of the victim or victims’ legal guardian or parent or legal guardian of the victim if the victim is a minor, the court shall order such person to undergo HIV testing. If requested by victim, the results of the testing shall be made available to the victim no later than two weeks after the court receives such results.
- To receive information about the “Address Confidentiality Program” available to victims of domestic violence administered through the Office of the Attorney General.
- To receive information notifying a victim or the next of kin of a victim that they may not be excluded from any portion of any hearing, trial, or proceeding pertaining to the offense based solely on the fact that such person is subpoenaed to testify, unless, upon motion, the court determines such person’s presence to be prejudicial.
- To attend, as parent or guardian of a juvenile victim, the sentencing or disposition of a juvenile defendant and request that the offender be required to attend a different school from the victim.
- To be informed that victims and witnesses who are not incarcerated shall not be required to attend discovery depositions in any correctional facility.
- To be informed that information gained by the victim pursuant to Chapter 960, including the next of kin of a homicide victim, regarding any case handled in juvenile court, must not be revealed to any outside party, except as is reasonably necessary in pursuit of legal remedies.
- To be notified by the appropriate agency of the arrest and release of the offender (including work release and community control).