VICTIM / WITNESS

Florida Statutes provide victims with certain legal rights and protections under the law. Additionally, the citizens of Florida approved an amendment to the State Constitution in 1988 which provided 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 rights of the accused.". To that end, the Fifth Circuit State Attorney's Office employs a professional Victim/Witness staff in each of the five counties. The mission of this division is to make sure that victims are made aware of their rights and that they are offered assistance in asserting those rights and in accessing needed services.

Every attempt is made to keep victims in all cases aware of the scheduling of court dates. Victims receive Impact Statements which they can complete and return so that their wishes can be expressed and so that monetary restitution can be sought on their behalf. Victims are offered assistance in applying for the State's Crime Victim Compensation program to get help with medical bills, lost wages, counseling or funeral expenses.

Special attention is given to cases involving children or serious injury or death. Witnesses and victims receive information about their involvement with the court system and can be accompanied to depositions and court hearings to be provided the emotional support they may need.