The Updated Florida Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights Requires Victims to Be Treated with Fairness and Respect for Their Dignity

In the Constitution of the State of Florida is an article known as the Victims’ Bill of Rights. Section 16 of Article I provides a framework for how victims of crime should be treated by the criminal justice system. The rights enumerated in this section are not new, but they have been updated and expanded to provide greater protections for victims of crime.

Understanding your rights as a victim can help empower you and ensure that you are treated fairly and with respect throughout the criminal justice process. If you or someone you know has been a victim of crime, Fighter Law can help you with any questions you may have and fight for your rights with our board-certified team of lawyers.

What Does the Florida Constitution Say About Victims’ Rights?

Florida’s model for providing protections to victims of crime is very similar to the Federal Victims’ Bill of Rights. In the late 1980s when Florida decided to enshrine victims’ rights in its constitution, it did so with the goal of providing “fair and dignified treatment of crime victims.”

Summarizing some of the key provisions included in the Florida Victims’ Bill of Rights, it is easy to see some of the benefits provided within the framework:

Right to Fairness and Dignity

As the victim of a crime, you are entitled to privacy and dignity. You have a right to be treated with fairness, respect, and sensitivity throughout the criminal justice process. High-pressure tactics to reveal private information conducted by law enforcement, prosecutors, or defense attorneys are not permitted.

Right to Be Free From Intimidation

You have the right to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse during the criminal justice process. This includes protection from the accused and their family, friends, or associates. If you feel that you are being intimidated, harassed, or abused, please immediately contact law enforcement or the prosecutor handling your case.

Right to Be Heard

Silencing the voices of victims is not the goal of the criminal justice system. Rather, victims should be given an opportunity to tell their stories and be heard. You have the right to be heard at all stages of the criminal justice process. This includes the right to be present at all proceedings, the right to testify, and the right to have your voice heard on bail and sentencing decisions.

Right to Restitution

You have the right to seek restitution from the accused for any damages you have suffered as a result of the crime. Typically, restitution is decided by the court and may be ordered in addition to any other sentence imposed.

However, a victim may be entitled to collect restitution but to also sue the offender for additional damages. Even if the offender is not convicted and no restitution is ordered, a victim still has the right to seek compensation in a civil lawsuit.

Right to Be Informed

You have the right to be fully and timely informed of all proceedings in your case, as well as the right to be notified of any changes in the status of the case or the release of the accused. You should also be given information about the rights afforded to you under the Victims’ Bill of Rights and how you can exercise them.

Right to Protection

You have the right to have reasonable measures taken to protect yourself from further victimization or intimidation. This may include protective orders, changes in work schedules or locations, and relocation assistance.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it provides a snapshot of the many ways in which Florida’s Victims’ Bill of Rights seeks to provide fairness, dignity, and respect to those who have been victimized by crime.

Recent Updates to the Florida Victims’ Bill of Rights

After being a staple of Florida’s constitution for nearly three decades, Florida updated the Victims’ Bill of Rights in 2018, expanding the rights of victims and giving them a stronger voice in the criminal justice process.

One major change was the addition of Marsy’s Law, which gives victims the right to refuse discovery requests, be present at all proceedings, and be heard at bail and sentencing hearings. Another significant change was the expansion of the right to restitution to include non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. In addition, the 2018 update clarified that victims have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.

The update also recognized that victims have the right to information about available services, as well as the right to have their safety and well-being considered when making decisions about the pretrial release, sentencing, and parole.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Florida Today

Knowing your rights can mean the difference between feeling powerless and taking control of your situation. But in order for you to take full control of the situation, you need a criminal defense attorney in your corner who knows how to fight for you and get results.

At Fighter Law, our team of experienced Florida criminal defense attorneys brings more than a century of combined experience to the negotiating table. We understand the ins and outs of the justice system and we know what it takes to get results. Contact us online or call (407) 344-4837 and take back your voice today.


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