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Your Rights as a Victim of Crime

The justice process can be overwhelming and confusing for victims of crime. The State Attorney’s Office is dedicated to ensuring that the needs of crime victims are met, and that their rights are protected.

Crime Victims Have the Right to:

  • Be treated with dignity and compassion.
  • Be protected from intimidation and harm.
  • Be informed about the availability of funds through Victim Crime Compensation, when applicable.
  • Be informed about community-based treatment programs, crisis intervention services, counseling, and social services.
  • Information on the role of the victim in the criminal and juvenile justice process.
  • 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.
  • Be informed, be present, and 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.
  • Notification of scheduling changes and prompt notification of the results of court proceedings.
  • 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.
  • Have your property returned as quickly as possible unless there is compelling law enforcement need to retain it.
  • The prompt and timely disposition of the case, to the extent that this right does not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
  • Seek restitution for loss of property and income, and seek reimbursement for medical expenses incurred as a result of the offense and to receive information on how to enforce the court's order of restitution.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Have your employer or creditors informed that your cooperation with a criminal prosecution may cause absences or financial hardship.
  • Have any special needs accommodated as is practical such as  handicap parking or translator services.
  • Be notified if the offender escapes from a state correctional facility or involuntary commitment facility.
  • Have a victim advocate present during any depositions of the victim.

Your Role as a Victim of Crime

As a victim of crime in Palm Beach County you have a very important position in the administration of justice. This role involves cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of a criminal case. Victims of crime are often called to testify as witnesses in a case. You may be required to be present at various stages of the justice process to provide truthful testimony.

If you are the victim of a violent crime or have had your property stolen, damaged or misused, the case may not be able to be properly prosecuted unless you testify. It is important in order to prevent delay and possible dismissal of a case that you are present when asked to appear. We must be able to contact you, so it is important that you keep our office informed of your present address and all contact numbers.

Tips for Victims and Witnesses:

  • Dress neatly and conservatively for court.
  • Inform the State Attorney’s Office of any change in address or telephone numbers.
  • Inform the State Attorney’s Office of any dates that you are unavailable for court.
  • Once you get a subpoena contact the State Attorney’s Office to see when you will be needed to testify.
  • Be on your best behavior in and around the courtroom.
  • Do not speak to any jurors who may be in the corridors, elevators, etc.
  • Do not discuss your trial testimony with other witnesses in the case.
  • Inform the State Attorney’s Office and law enforcement of any threats, acts of revenge, harassment or intimidation as a result of your involvement in a case. Interference with a victim/witness by threat or act is a serious crime.
  • Do not make statements to the media prior to or during a trial without first checking with the assistant state attorney.

The Florida Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights specifies that “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, Section 16: Rights of accused and of victims.

Florida Statutes 960.001: Guidelines for fair treatment of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems.

For additional information on victims’ rights:
http://myfloridalegal.com/victims