AARDVARC - An Abuse Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection. Florida directory of resources for victims of crimes including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and child abuse. Information, referrals, publications and assistance for victims.
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- Florida Crime Victim Bill of Rights
- Additional Rights
- Victim Rights in Court and Clemency Hearings
- Victim Assistance After Sentencing
- Restitution to Victims
- Victim Compensation Program
Florida Crime Victim Bill of Rights
Victims of crime or their lawful representatives, including the next of kin of homicide victims, are entitled to the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevant, at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings, to the extent that these rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
Florida Constitutional Amendment, Article I
Sec. 16. Rights of accused and of victims
(a) In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall, upon demand, be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and shall be furnished a copy of the charges, and shall have the right to have compulsory process for witnesses, to confront at trial adverse witnesses, to be heard in person, by counsel or both, and to have a speedy and public trial by impartial jury in the county where the crime was committed. If the county is not known, the indictment or information may charge venue in two or more counties conjunctively and proof that the crime was committed in that area shall be sufficient; but before pleading the accused may elect in which of those counties he will be tried. Venue for prosecution of crimes committed beyond the boundaries of the state shall be fixed by law.
(b) Victims of crime or their lawful representatives, including the next of kin of homicide victims, are entitled to the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevant, at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings, to the extent that these rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
Also see: Florida Statutes Chapter 960 - Victim Assistance:
960.001 Guidelines for fair treatment of victims
Additional Rights in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems
If you are a victim of a crime or a witness because you have seen, heard, or know something about a crime that has been committed, you are important to the case. Your testimony may be necessary to establish the facts. Understandably, you might feel anxious about testifying in court. However, without your testimony the defendant might go unpunished.
VICTIM: A person against whom a crime was committed. Some victims suffer physical injury or property damage, and some have psychological injury or both. Victims have certain rights in Florida. Others who can claim these rights are the parents or guardians if the victim is a minor, the lawful representative of the victim or of the parent or guardian if the victim is a minor, and the next of kin of a homicide victim. As a victim of a crime, you have the following rights:
- Either you or the State Attorneys Office with your consent, have standing to assert any legal rights of a crime victim as provided by law or The Florida Constitution.
- In some cases, victims (or their relatives where the victim is deceased) may be eligible for financial compensation from the State of Florida. Information regarding eligibility may be obtained from the State Attorneys Office, local Witness Coordination Office (where available), law enforcement agency or from the Bureau of Crimes Compensation, Office of the Attorney General 1-800-226-6667.
- The right to receive information on available crisis intervention services and local community services to include counseling, shelter, legal assistance, or other types of help, depending on the particular circumstances. Telephone numbers of these services are provided throughout this website.
- The right to receive information regarding the role of the victim in the criminal or juvenile process, including what the victim may expect from the system as well as what the system may expect from the victim.
- The right to receive information regarding the stages of the criminal or juvenile justice process and the manner in which information about such stages may be obtained. Note: You cannot be notified if they cannot locate you. It is your responsibility to keep the State Attorney Office informed of any changes in your address or telephone number.
- The right to be informed, present, and heard when relevant, at all crucial stages of a criminal or juvenile proceeding, to the extent the right does not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
- The right, if you are incarcerated, to be informed and submit written statements at all crucial stages of the criminal and juvenile proceedings.
- The right to a prompt and timely disposition of the case as long as it does not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
- The right to be notified of the arrest and release of the offender, including release to community control and/or work release. When an arrest is made in a reported case, the victim, witnesses, relatives of minor victims and witnesses and relatives of homicide victims, where those persons have provided current addresses and telephone numbers to the Sheriff, Police or State Attorney shall be notified.
- The right to receive information on the steps available to law enforcement and the State Attorneys Office to protect you from intimidation and/or harassment. It is a third degree felony to knowingly use intimidation or physical force, or threaten another person, or attempt to do so, or engage in misleading conduct toward another person, or offer pecuniary benefit or gain to another person. If you are being threatened or intimidated, please contact the appropriate agency or any law enforcement officer.
- The right of the victim of domestic violence to be informed of the address confidentiality program administered through the Attorney Generals Office. You may contact the Attorney Generals Office at 1-800-226-6667. The State Attorneys Office may assist with this paper work if necessary.
- The right of each victim or witness who has been scheduled to attend a criminal or juvenile justice proceeding to be notified as soon as possible by the agency or person scheduling his/her appearance of any change in scheduling which will affect appearance by the victim.
- The right to receive advance notification of judicial and post judicial proceedings relating to the case, including all proceedings or hearings relating to:
- The arrest of the accused.
- The release of the accused pending judicial proceedings, any modification of release condition to include release to community control or work release.
- Proceedings in the prosecution or petition for delinquency of the accused, including the filing of the accusatory instrument, the arraignment, disposition of the accusatory instrument, trial or adjudicatory hearing, sentencing or disposition hearing, appellate review, subsequent modification of sentence, collateral attack of a judgment, and when a term of imprisonment, detention, or involuntary commitment is imposed, the release of the defendant or juvenile offender from such imprisonment, detention or juvenile offender from such imprisonment, detention or commitment by expiration of sentence or parole and any meeting held to consider such release.
- The right to not be excluded from any portion of any hearing, trial or proceeding pertaining to the offense based solely upon the fact that such person is subpoenaed to testify, unless the court determines otherwise.
- In addition to the provisions of s. 921.143, F.S., the rights of the victim of a felony involving physical or emotional injury or trauma, or in a case in which the victim is a minor child or in a homicide, the guardian or family of the victim shall be consulted by the State Attorney in order to obtain the views of the victim or family about the disposition of any criminal or juvenile case brought about as a result of such crime, including their views about:
- The release of the accused pending judicial proceedings.
- Plea Agreements.
- Participation in pretrial diversion programs.
- Sentencing of the accused.
- The right to review certain portions of a pre-sentence investigation report for adult and youthful offenders prior to the sentencing of the accused.
- The right to a prompt return of property unless there is a compelling law enforcement need to retain it.
- The right to request that the State Attorney or law enforcement agency help you explain to employers and creditors that you may face additional burdens by taking time off from work to assist law enforcement and you may undergo serious financial strain either because of the crime or by cooperating with authorities.
- Law Enforcement agencies and the State Attorney shall inform you of your right to request and receive restitution and of your rights of enforcement in the event an offender does not pay. The State Attorney shall seek the your assistance in the documentation of your losses for the purpose of requesting and receiving restitution.
If an order of restitution is converted to a civil lien or civil judgment against the defendant, the clerks shall make available at their office, as well as on their website, information provided by the Secretary of State, the court, or The Florida Bar on enforcing the civil lien or judgment. The State Attorney shall inform you if and when restitution is ordered.
- The right to submit an oral or written impact statement to the court, pursuant to s. 921.143 F.S., prior to sentencing of the offender. The State Attorney or any assistant state attorney shall advise all victims or, when appropriate, the parent, guardian, next of kin, or lawful representative of the victim that statements, whether oral or written, shall relate to the facts of the case and the extent of any harm, including social, psychological, or physical harm, financial losses, loss of earnings directly or indirectly resulting from the crime for which the defendant is being sentenced, and any matter relevant to an appropriate disposition and sentence.
- The right to receive reasonable consideration and assistance from employees of the State Attorney Office, Sheriff, or Police Department. When requested, you will be assisted in locating accessible transportation and parking, and shall be directed to separate pretrial waiting areas when such facilities are available. When requested, you shall receive assistance in attempting to locate translators when practicable.
- The right to be notified when the offender escapes from custody. The State Attorney shall make every effort to advise the victim, material witness, parents or legal guardian of a minor who is a victim or witness, or immediate relative of a homicide victim of the escape of a criminal defendant. The State Attorney shall also notify the Sheriff of the county where the criminal charge or petition for delinquency arose. The Sheriff shall offer assistance upon request.
- The right of the victim to request that a victim advocate be permitted to attend and be present during any deposition. The victim advocate may be designated by State Attorneys Office, Sheriff, or Municipal Police Department, or one representative from a not-for-profit victim services organization, including, but not limited to, rape crisis centers, domestic violence advocacy groups, and alcohol abuse or substance abuse groups.
- The right of the victim of a sexual offense to have the courtroom cleared, with certain exceptions during his or her testimony, regardless of the age or mental capacity of the victim.
- The right to request, in certain circumstances that the offender be required to attend a different school than the victim or siblings of the victim. If the victim of an offense committed by a juvenile is a minor, and the victim or any sibling of the victim attends or is eligible to attend the same school as that of the offender, the Department of Juvenile Justice or the Department of Corrections shall notify the parent or legal guardian of the victim of the right to attend the sentencing or disposition of the offender and request that the offender be required to attend a different school.
- The right of the victim who is not incarcerated to not be required to attend discovery depositions in any correctional facility.
- The statutory obligation of the victim, or next of kin of a homicide victim, that any information gained pursuant to FS Chapter 960, regarding any case handled in juvenile court, must not be revealed to any outside party, except as reasonably necessary in pursuit of legal remedies.
- The right to know in certain cases and at the earliest possible opportunity, if the person charged with an offense has tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. In such cases, upon request of the victim or his/her legal guardian, or the parent or legal guardian of the victim if the victim is a minor, the court shall order such person to undergo HIV testing. In some cases, you can be notified of the results of the test within two weeks of the court receiving the results.
- The right to request, for specific crimes, that your home and work telephone numbers, home and work addresses, and personal assets not be disclosed to anyone.
To find your local police, State Attorney or correctional facility, check the Florida Criminal Justice Directory
Florida Victim Rights in Court Proceedings
Victims of crime are entitled to information concerning services and protection available to victims of adult and juvenile crime; notification of scheduling changes; advance notification concerning judicial proceedings and the right to be present at those proceedings; an opportunity be consulted by the state attorney to express their views; prompt return of property held for evidentiary purposes unless there is a compelling law enforcement reason for retaining it; notification to employer for cooperation in the prosecution of the case and explanation to creditors the reason for such serious financial strain; notification of the right to request restitution, and submit an impact statement; information concerning the escape of the defendant; and general victim assistance.
Victims next of kin will be sent information explaining the capital clemency process; notification that a Florida Parole Commission Investigator will be requesting an interview and the nature of the interview, victims will be offered the opportunity to submit written impact information in lieu of an interview; notification and explanation of a clemency hearing; opportunity to be present and submit a written statement or an oral statement at the clemency hearing; upon request, victims may receive copies of the actual transcript of any statements or testimony of the inmate.
For further information or clarification, please call 1-800-226-6667.
Florida Victim Rights After Sentencing
The primary function of the Florida Department of Corrections
Victim Assistance Office is to assist victims of crime committed by inmates in custody or under our supervision, and to notify victims prior to an inmate's release. This office also provides referral services to victims with specific needs, such as counseling support groups, crimes compensation, and crisis intervention. Their statewide toll-freenumber is: 1-877-8-VICTIM (1-877-884-2846).
What Happens After Sentencing?
Once sentenced to the Department of Corrections, the inmate will first go to a reception center for diagnostic tests and evaluations. The custody evaluation is based upon factors such as the sentence structure, outstanding detainers or warrants, age, education and recent employment history. Background factors such as previous terms of incarceration, previous escapes, and past disciplinary problems also affect the decision. The result of the evaluation is called a custody assignment.
An inmate custody assignment is important because it determines the type of institution in which an inmate must be housed. It should be noted that an inmate custody assignment could change over time because of length of time served, good behavior, bad behavior, etc. When the custody assignment changes, so can the location and it is possible for an inmate to be moved to a different prison. In some cases, the Department will assign an inmate to an institution in the vicinity of his/her home to encourage family support.
Florida VINE Services
The Department of Corrections also offers a toll-free automated inmate information and notification service. Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) Service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Victims can call the toll-free number 1-877-VINE-4-FL (1-877-846-3435), and receive an inmates current location and tentative release date. Victims may also register to receive an automated notification when an inmate is released, transferred, escapes, is placed in a work release facility, transferred to another jurisdiction, returned to the Department's custody, or dies while in custody. The VINE Service is anonymous, confidential, and accessible 24 hours a day.
Note: Victims will not automatically be notified by the Department of Corrections of inmate custody status, unless notification information is provided to our office. Victims can register their telephone number(s) for automated notification of an inmate's transfer, escape, death, out-to-court or release status by calling 1-877-VINE-4-FL (1-877-846-3435). Victims may also call our toll-free number for status updates and information, or visit the Offender Population Information Search page
Florida Restitution Orders
If as inmate is ordered by the court to pay restitution, the Department of Corrections will collect on behalf of the victim, if the inmate is gainfully employed while incarcerated or under probation supervision.
To pay court ordered restitution, fines and court costs, some inmates have the opportunity to work at paid employment, either through the Community Work Release Program or PRIDE (Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises). Payments are distributed on a regular basis to victims who are awarded restitution by the court and maintain a current address with the Department.
Offenders are required to pay court ordered restitution, fines and court costs while being supervised by Probation and Parole Services. To obtain additional information and assistance, contact the offender's Probation Officer, or the Probation and Parole Services Office
Florida Victim Compensation Program
The Florida Attorney General Division of Victim Services not only serves as an advocate for crime victims and victims' rights, it also administers a compensation program to ensure financial assistance for innocent victims of crime. As part of its responsibility, the division also notifies victims of the status of any appellate decisions regarding their cases.
Injured crime victims may be eligible for financial assistance for medical care, lost income, mental health services, funeral expenses and other out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the injury. If needed, they can also be referred to support organizations within their home area.
What Is Florida Crime Victim Compensation?
Financial compensation to eligible persons who are victims of crime. Your victim advocate will assist you with the application process.
Any victim who received personal injury, or survivors of someone who was killed as a result of a felony or misdemeanor crime punishable under federal or state laws, including DUI and hit and run. Also any elderly or disabled adult who suffered a property loss as a result of a crime.
What are the Eligibility Requirements?
The victim or applicant must cooperate fully with law enforcement officials, the State Attorney, and the Attorney General.
The victim must have suffered a physical, psychiatric, or psychological injury, or death, as a result of the crime. (Exceptions may apply.)
The crime must be reported to law enforcement within three days after it happened, unless there is good reason for reporting it later.
The claim must be filed within one year of the crime, up to two years if there is good reason for not filing the claim. Exceptions are made for minor children.
The victim must not have contributed to the circumstances that caused the crime, injury, or death.
The victim was not engaged in an unlawful activity at the time of the crime.
Who Can Apply?
Any adult victim who has been physically injured as a result of a crime.
The parent or guardian of a minor or incompetent victim that has been injured as a result of a crime.
The parent or guardian of a minor victim less than 16 years old who was present at the scene of a violent crime, who saw or heard the crime, and who suffered psychological injury but was not physically injured.
The spouse, parent, sibling, or adult child of a deceased victim.
Any elderly or disabled adult who lost property as a result of a crime.
Victims wishing to apply for assistance, check on the status of their applications, or in need of any other assistance can contact the division toll free from anywhere in the United States.
The toll-free number is 1-800-226-6667. Tallahassee-area residents should dial 414-3300. In addition, victims may also contact the Division of Victim Services at (850) 414-3300.
Download Victim Compensation Application (ENGLISH)
Download Victim Compensation Application (SPANISH)