The Florida Legislature recognizes that many innocent persons suffer injury or death as a result of criminal acts. Such persons or their dependents may thereby suffer disabilities, incur financial hardships or become dependent upon public assistance. The Legislature finds that there is a need for government assistance for the victims of criminal acts.
The Florida Constitution guarantees the rights of a victim including the next of kin of a homicide victim, to be informed, to be present, and to be heard, when relevant, at all crucial stages of criminal and juvenile proceedings, to the extent that this right does not interfere with constitutional rights of the accused (S. 16(b) Article 1 of the State Constitution). In the case of incarcerated victims, the right to be informed and to submit written statements at all critical stages of the criminal and juvenile proceedings and parole proceedings.
- What to expect from the system and what the system expects from you
- Crime Compensation
- What if my case involves a juvenlile?
- Change of School
- How long will it take for an arrest to be made?
- Bail or bond
- First appearance hearing
- Appearance of victim or next of kin to make statement at sentencing hearing; submission of written statement
- Presence of victim advocate during discovery deposition
- Testimony of victim sex offense
- Information about additional victim assistance
- Victim/Witness personal safety
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) Testing
- Victims/Witnesses who are not incarcerated
- Standing to assert rights
- Right to timely disposition
- Confidentiality/Victim Notification Card
- Notification of scheduling changes
- Advance notification to victim or relative of victim concerning judicial proceedings
- Consultation with victim or guardian or family of victim
- Notification of the release of the accused
- Plea negotiations
- Pre-Trial intervention
- Pre-sentence investigation report
- Return of property
- Escape from commitment facility
- Notification to employer and creditors
- Restitution to victim
- What happens next?
- For assistance and information regarding community services
As a victim or witness, your role is critical. You have seen, heard, know or experienced something that is important to the investigation of this case. You may be interviewed by law enforcement to identify the assailant, if recognized; to help in finding the crime scene; identify stolen property, etc. Please keep our agency advised of where you are living and your telephone number (work & home). The criminal justice process starts with a crime. There are four basic ways a case can proceed:
- A person may be arrested at the time of the crime. Law enforcement completes an arrest document stating the charges against the accused. If no arrest is made at the time of the crime, law enforcement investigates:
- If appropriate, law enforcement presents a sworn complaint to the State Attorney with the evidence to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and the suspect may have committed the crime. The State Attorney may file a document, called an information, with the Clerk of the Court charging the suspect with the criminal offense. If an information is filed, the Judge, through the Clerk of the Court, may issue a capias.
- Based upon the investigation, an affidavit of probable cause is presented to the Judge by the State Attorney. If probable cause is found, the Judge may issue an arrest warrant. Both the capias and the arrest warrant direct the Sheriff’s Office to arrest the person believed to have committed the crime.
If you receive injuries, you may be eligible for crime victim compensation to help with medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses, etc. For Information: Bureau of Crimes Compensation, (850) 488-0848, or 1-800-226-6667, or the local victim advocate program at (352) 377-7273 or (352) 374-3670.
WHAT IF MY CASE INVOLVES A JUVENILE?
A juvenile (under 18 years of age) who is accused of a crime and arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or non-violent felony, may be immediately released to the custody of their parents or guardian. The juveniles who are not released will go to a detention hearing at 9:00 A.M. the morning following the arrest at the Alachua County Courthouse, 201 East University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida.
CHANGE OF SCHOOL
The victim, in certain circumstances, may request that the offender be required to attend a different school than the victim or the siblings of the victim.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR AN ARREST TO BE MADE?
As a victim you have a right to be notified of an arrest. Each case will proceed differently. Interviewing witnesses and the collection of evidence can be a timely process. There is no set time frame. If you would like to find out about your case, call (386) 462-1396. Please give the defendant’s name and the case number when you call.
BAIL OR BOND
Bail or bond is an amount of money or property posted by the defendant for his/her release to ensure the defendant appears in court. The amount of bail is set by the Judge at the time that the arrest warrant or arrest capias is issued. The Court considers: the nature of the offense, evidence, defendant’s employment status, mental condition, their ties to the community, and previous convictions before setting bail. In less violent crimes, the defendant may be allowed to post bond and be released immediately.
FIRST APPEARANCE HEARING
In more violent crimes or if the defendant cannot post bond, within hours of arrest, the Court holds a “First Appearance” hearing. The Judge decides whether the defendant can be released and if so, what conditions are necessary to protect the victim/witness. Bail may also be set when the arrest is made on probable cause by law enforcement. There are times when the defendant is released on his/her own recognizance (signature bond). The Judge can include special conditions ordering the defendant to have “no contact” with the victim and/or witness. You may attend the First Appearance hearing at 9:00 A.M. the morning following the arrest at the Alachua County Jail located at 333 NE 39th Avenue in Gainesville, Florida.
APPEARANCE OF VICTIM OR NEXT OF KIN TO MAKE STATEMENT AT SENTENCING HEARING; SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN STATEMENT
At the sentencing hearing, and prior to the imposition of sentence upon any defendant who has been convicted of any felony or who has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to any crime, including a criminal violation of a provision of chapter 316, the sentencing court shall permit the victim of the crime for which the defendant is being sentenced, or the next of kin of the victim if the victim has died from causes related to the crime, to:
- Appear before the sentencing court for the purpose of making a statement under oath for the record; or
- Submit a written statement under oath to the office of the state attorney, which statement shall be filed with the sentencing court.
PRESENCE OF VICTIM ADVOCATE DURING DISCOVERY DEPOSITION
At the request of the victim, the victim advocate designated by the state attorney’s office, sheriff’s office, 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 shall be permitted to attend and be present during any deposition of the victim
TESTIMONY OF VICTIM OF SEX OFFENSE
The victim of a sex offense shall be informed of the right to have the courtroom cleared of certain persons when the victim is testifying concerning that offense.
INFORMATION ABOUT ADDITIONAL VICTIM ASSISTANCE
Information will be made available to victims and witnesses about other assistance such as: transportation, parking, waiting areas and translator services to be utilized when attending court, when practicable. Contact the State Attorney’s Office for information at (352) 374-3670.
VICTIM/WITNESS PERSONAL SAFETY
- In the event you receive threats, bribes, or other attempts to persuade or intimidate you into testifying untruthfully, or to forget, or to make yourself unavailable as a witness, report it immediately to the Alachua Police Department, (386) 462-1396.
- If you are the victim of domestic violence (violence within the family) or repeat violence (two incidents), you can file an injunction for protection with the Clerk of the Circuit Court at 201 East University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida. Call (386) 462-1396 for help with unwanted trespassers.
HIV (HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS TESTING):
In any case which involves the transmission of body fluids from one person to another, upon request of the victim or the victim’s legal guardian, or of the parent or legal guardian of the victim if the victim is a minor, the court shall order such person to undergo HIV testing. The results of the test shall be disclosed, under the direction of the Department of Health, to the person charged of the offense and to the victim, or the parent of legal guardian of the victim if the victim is a minor.
To request in sex offenses, under certain circumstances, if the victim is under the age of 18 or is a disabled adult or elderly person, that the court order the accused to undergo HIV testing regardless of whether the offense involves the transmission of bodily fluids. If requested by the victim, the results of the testing shall be made available to the victim no later than two weeks after the court receives such results.
VICTIMS/WITNESSES WHO ARE NOT INCARCERATED
Notification of victims, witnesses, who are not incarcerated shall not be required to attend discovery depositions in any correctional facility.
STANDING TO ASSERT RIGHTS
The victim of a crime and the state attorney, with the consent of the victim, have standing to assert the rights of a crime victim, which are provided by law or S. 16(b) Article 1 of the State Constitution.
Information gained by the victim, 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.
RIGHT TO TIMELY DISPOSITION
As the victim you have the right to a prompt and timely disposition of the case to the extent that this right does not interfere with the rights of the accused.
CONFIDENTIALITY/VICTIM NOTIFICATION CARD
The victim notification card contains information concerning the disclosure of information from the public. A public records exemption was created that prohibits the disclosure of information which reveals the home or work telephone, home or work address, or personal assets of victims of certain specified crimes (i.e., sexual battery, aggravated child abuse, aggravated stalking, harassment, aggravated battery, or domestic violence) not otherwise held confidential or exempt from the public records law.
This information will cease to be exempt five years after receipt of the written request. It also provides that agencies, which regularly receive victim information, keep that information exempt from public disclosure upon written request from the victim. The victim notification/public exemption card shall be filled out completely on every case.
NOTIFICATION OF SCHEDULING CHANGES
Each victim or witness who has been scheduled to attend a criminal or juvenile justice proceeding shall be notified as soon as possible by the agency scheduling his appearance of any change in scheduling which will affect his appearance.
ADVANCE NOTIFICATION TO VICTIM OR RELATIVE OF VICTIM CONCERNING JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS
Any victim, relative of a minor who is a victim, or relative of a homicide victim shall receive from the appropriate agency, at the address found in the police report or other criminal report or at a more current address if such has been provided to the agency, prompt advance notification, unless the agency itself does not have advance notification, of judicial and post judicial proceedings relating to his case, including all proceedings or hearings relating to:
- The arrest of the accused;
- The release of the accused pending judicial proceedings or any modification of release conditions;
- The approval of the accused for Community Work Release or Community Control; and
- 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 judgement, 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 commitment by expiration of sentence or parole and any meeting held to consider such release.
A victim or a victim’s next of kin 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.
CONSULTATION WITH VICTIM OR GUARDIAN OR FAMILY OF VICTIM:
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 as a result of such crime, including the views of the victim or family about; notification of the release of the accused; plea negotiations; pre-trial intervention; and sentencing.
NOTIFICATION OF THE RELEASE OF THE ACCUSED
If the defendant is able to post bond, he/she may be released pending trial. You, as a victim, have a right to be advised of the release of the defendant. The Department of Corrections, (352) 491-4444, will attempt to notify you when the defendant is being released via telephone. If they cannot contact you by phone a letter will be sent to you by the Department of Corrections advising you of the release. The Alachua Police Department will assist the Department of Corrections in notifying you of a release if they notify us of the release.
In many cases, the defendant will plead guilty before trial. This plea may be a result of discussions between the assistant state attorney and the defendant’s attorney. The defendant will plead guilty to a crime in exchange for some concession. The concession may involve a lesser charge, dismissal of other pending charges, or a recommendation by the prosecutor for a reduced sentence. The assistant state attorney also considers the wishes of the victim in determining what sentence to recommend to the court.
This is a program for first time offenders of non-violent crimes, which must have the approval of the State Attorney and you, as the crime victim. It basically functions as a “pre-trial probation”. If the offender completes the program the criminal charges are dropped. If the offender does not fulfill the terms of the program the charges are re-activated and full prosecution will be pursued.
PRE-SENTENCE INVESTIGATION REPORT
The victim, the victim’s parent or guardian if the victim is a minor, or the victim’s next of kin in the case of a homicide has the right to review a copy of a pre-sentence investigation report on an adult or youthful offender completed prior to the sentencing hearing, upon request of the victim.
Information, such as medical history, mental health, or substance abuse, and any information that pertains to other victims, shall be redacted from the copy of the report. Any person who reviews this report shall maintain the confidentiality of the report
The Judge sentences a defendant found guilty or who has pleaded guilty or no contest. Using state sentencing guidelines, the Judge sentences the defendant in a manner appropriate to the crime and other circumstances related to the case. The Judge may impose the following sentences: 1) Jail/Prison, 2) Probation, 3) Fine, or 4) Restitution. The victim may personally appear in court at the sentencing hearing to make a statement.
RETURN OF PROPERTY
You have the right to a prompt return of your property unless there is a compelling law enforcement need to retain it. If property was stolen or other property is needed by law enforcement to prove the crime, it becomes important as evidence. Some evidence/property must be sent to labs for analysis. It is helpful for the jury to see the property at trial and is sometimes necessary to keep the property until trial. However, your property will be returned to you as promptly as possible. If you have questions concerning the release of your property, call (386) 462-1396.
ESCAPE FROM COMMITMENT FACILITY
You have the right to be notified of an offender’s escape from a state correctional institution, county jail, juvenile detention facility, or involuntary commitment facility. The state attorney will make every effort to notify the victim, material witness or relatives of a homicide victim, of the escapee.
NOTIFICATION TO EMPLOYER AND CREDITORS
At your request, the Alachua Police Department and State Attorney's Office will inform your employer that your cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of the case may necessitate your absence from work. At your request, we will also contact your creditors to seek their consideration if you are temporarily unable to continue payments as a result of the crime.
RESTITUTION TO VICTIM
You have the right to request and receive restitution. The court may order restitution for certain losses (medical bills, property damage, stolen property). Keep documentation of your losses and provide them with your testimony to the State Attorney. The State Attorney will make the effort to secure the proper amount of restitution. You also have the right to receive information on how to enforce the court’s order of restitution to you.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Information on how your case proceeds after First Appearance will be available to you at the State Attorney’s Office. We thank you ahead of time for your patience, assistance and cooperation in the investigation of this crime.
FOR ASSISTANCE AND INFORMATION REGARDING COMMUNITY SERVICES
Please refer to the following list of agencies and their numbers for assistance and information regarding community services available to assist crime victims.
|Alachua County Crisis Center||(352) 264-6785|
|Alachua County Department of Corrections (Jail)||(352) 491-4444
|Alachua County Sheriff's Office||(352) 367-4000
|Alachua Police Department||(386) 462-1396
|Child Protection Team||(352) 334-1300|
|Columbia County Sheriff's Office||(386) 752-3222|
|Alachua County Court Alternatives (Pre-trial Services, County Probation Community Services)||(352) 338-7390|
|Crime Compensation||(352) 334-0827
|Crisis Center||(352) 264-6789|
|Federal Bureau of Investigation||(352) 372-9600|
|Florida Department of Law Enforcement||(386) 418-5400|
|Florida Highway Patrol||(800) 395-8248|
|Gainesville Police Department||(352) 334-2400|
|Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office||(800) 701-3410|
|Guardian Ad Litem||(352) 374-3656|
|Children & Family Services: Child & Adult Abuse Registry||(800) 962-2873|
|Child Protection Investigations||(352) 955-5169|
|High Springs Police Department||(386) 454-1415|
|Information & Referral (UnitedWay)||(352) 332-4636|
|Injunction Issuance Information (Alachua County)||(352) 491-4418|
|Mental Health||(352) 374-5600
(352) 374-5616 (after hours)
|Office of the State Attorney||(352) 374-3670|
|Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center||(352) 264-6760|
|Salvation Army||(352) 376-1743|
|Sexual & Physical Abuse Resource Center (S.P.A.R.C.)||(352) 377-8255
|St. Francis House||(352) 378-9079|
|University Police Department||(352) 392-1111|
|Waldo Police Department||(352) 468-1515|
|Witness and Jury Management Program||(352) 374-3639|