Article: Florida Crime Victim Rights
If you have been the victim of a Florida crime, rest assured – Florida law provides you certain crime victims’ rights. The Florida criminal justice system doesn’t just cover the treatment of accused perpetrators – it also provides certain rights for crime victims to ensure they are compensated for their losses.
Florida’s state constitution provides a “constitutional right” for crime victims that falls under a victim’s bill of rights. This bill of rights entitles every crime victim to information about victim compensation options, state-provided services, and restitution when ordered by a court.
In addition to crime victims’ constitutional right under Florida law, a Florida crime victim is protected by Florida Statute, Title XLVII, Chapter 960 (Victim Assistance), which lays out guidelines for the treatment of crime victims in the state juvenile and criminal justice systems. The bill of rights and the Victim Assistance laws ensure that victims of crime will be informed when a perpetrator leaves prison and allowed to provide input as to whether they feel the perpetrator should be released from custody. The state Department of Justice will collect monies owed to the victim by the perpetrator, and victims will be informed of all court proceedings so that they may attend.
Crime victims may seek restitution for monetary losses, including calculable damages such as those related to past and future medical care, lost wages and insurance premiums, and non-monetary damages such as those for pain and suffering, through the Florida courts. They may participate in the criminal justice system as witnesses, but the state usually files its own criminal lawsuit against a perpetrator. If the crime victim wishes to seek personal restitution, he or she must file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator, even if a criminal lawsuit has been filed.
In addition to restitution gained through a civil lawsuit, Florida crime victims may take advantage of the State Attorney General’s Florida Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, which provides restitution for certain losses to Florida crime victims. If you are the victim of a crime, you may have only a limited time to file a civil lawsuit under Florida law. It is vital that you contact an attorney with crime victim experience. Your Florida crime victims’ attorney can help you determine your rights and then act on them.
Remember, just because a criminal lawsuit is filed does guarantee that you will be compensated – you must usually file your own suit in order to seek monetary restitution for a criminal’s acts. Since the Florida legal system is complex and Florida crime victims’ lawsuits usually require special legal knowledge, it is best to be represented by a competent attorney with experience in this area. A civil lawsuit in response to a crime is the best way to protect your rights as a crime victim and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
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