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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Title VII
EVIDENCE
Chapter 92
WITNESSES, RECORDS, AND DOCUMENTS
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F.S. 92.55
92.55 Special protections in proceedings involving victim or witness under 18, person with intellectual disability, or sexual offense victim.
(1) For purposes of this section, the term:
(a) “Sexual offense victim or witness” means a person who was under the age of 18 when he or she was the victim of or a witness to a sexual offense.
(b) “Sexual offense” means any offense specified in s. 775.21(4)(a)1. or s. 943.0435(1)(h)1.a.(I).
(2) Upon motion of any party, upon motion of a parent, guardian, attorney, guardian ad litem, or other advocate appointed by the court under s. 914.17 for a victim or witness under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness, or upon its own motion, the court may enter any order necessary to protect the victim or witness in any judicial proceeding or other official proceeding from severe emotional or mental harm due to the presence of the defendant if the victim or witness is required to testify in open court. Such orders must relate to the taking of testimony and include, but are not limited to:
(a) Interviewing or the taking of depositions as part of a civil or criminal proceeding.
(b) Examination and cross-examination for the purpose of qualifying as a witness or testifying in any proceeding.
(c) The use of testimony taken outside of the courtroom, including proceedings under ss. 92.53 and 92.54.
(3) In ruling upon the motion, the court shall consider:
(a) The age of the child, the nature of the offense or act, the relationship of the child to the parties in the case or to the defendant in a criminal action, the degree of emotional trauma that will result to the child as a consequence of the defendant’s presence, and any other fact that the court deems relevant;
(b) The age of the person who has an intellectual disability, the functional capacity of such person, the nature of the offenses or act, the relationship of the person to the parties in the case or to the defendant in a criminal action, the degree of emotional trauma that will result to the person as a consequence of the defendant’s presence, and any other fact that the court deems relevant; or
(c) The age of the sexual offense victim or witness when the sexual offense occurred, the relationship of the sexual offense victim or witness to the parties in the case or to the defendant in a criminal action, the degree of emotional trauma that will result to the sexual offense victim or witness as a consequence of the defendant’s presence, and any other fact that the court deems relevant.
(4) In addition to such other relief provided by law, the court may enter orders limiting the number of times that a child, a person who has an intellectual disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness may be interviewed, prohibiting depositions of the victim or witness, requiring the submission of questions before the examination of the victim or witness, setting the place and conditions for interviewing the victim or witness or for conducting any other proceeding, or permitting or prohibiting the attendance of any person at any proceeding. The court shall enter any order necessary to protect the rights of all parties, including the defendant in any criminal action.
(5) The court may set any other conditions it finds just and appropriate when taking the testimony of a victim or witness under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness, including the use of a therapy animal or facility dog, in any proceeding involving a sexual offense or child abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
(a) When deciding whether to permit a victim or witness under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness to testify with the assistance of a therapy animal or facility dog, the court shall consider the age of the child victim or witness, the age of the sexual offense victim or witness at the time the sexual offense occurred, the interests of the child victim or witness or sexual offense victim or witness, the rights of the parties to the litigation, and any other relevant factor that would facilitate the testimony by the victim or witness under the age of 18, person who has an intellectual disability, or sexual offense victim or witness.
(b) For purposes of this subsection the term:
1. “Facility dog” means a dog that has been trained, evaluated, and certified as a facility dog pursuant to industry standards and provides unobtrusive emotional support to children and adults in facility settings.
2. “Therapy animal” means an animal that has been trained, evaluated, and certified as a therapy animal pursuant to industry standards by an organization that certifies animals as appropriate to provide animal therapy.
(6)(a) In any criminal proceeding, before the defendant may take a discovery deposition of a victim of a sexual offense who is under the age of 16, the court must conduct a hearing to determine whether it is appropriate to take a deposition of the victim and, if so, whether to order any limitations or other specific conditions under which the victim’s deposition may be conducted.
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c), in determining whether it is appropriate to take a deposition of a victim of a sexual offense who is under the age of 16, the court must consider:
1. The mental and physical age and maturity of the victim.
2. The nature and duration of the offense.
3. The relationship of the victim to the defendant.
4. The complexity of the issues involved.
5. Whether the evidence sought is reasonably available by other means, including whether the victim was the subject of a forensic interview related to the sexual offense.
6. Any other factors the court deems relevant to ensure the protection of the victim and the integrity of the judicial process.
(c) If the victim of a sexual offense is under the age of 12, there is a presumption that the taking of the victim’s deposition is not appropriate if:
1. The state has not filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty; and
2. A forensic interview of the sexual offense victim is available to the defendant.
(d) If the court determines the taking of the victim’s deposition is appropriate, in addition to any other condition required by law, the court may order limitations or other specific conditions including, but not limited to:
1. Requiring the defendant to submit questions to the court before the victim’s deposition.
2. Setting the appropriate place and conditions under which the victim’s deposition may be conducted.
3. Permitting or prohibiting the attendance of any person at the victim’s deposition.
4. Limiting the duration of the victim’s deposition.
5. Any other condition the court finds just and appropriate.
(e) The court must enter a written order finding whether the taking of the deposition of the victim is appropriate. If the court finds that the taking of the deposition of the victim is appropriate, the order must include any limitations or other specific conditions under which the victim’s deposition must be conducted.
History.s. 7, ch. 85-53; s. 3, ch. 93-131; s. 23, ch. 94-154; s. 8, ch. 2000-336; s. 3, ch. 2011-220; s. 6, ch. 2013-162; s. 1, ch. 2014-4; s. 64, ch. 2016-24; s. 9, ch. 2016-104; s. 3, ch. 2016-199; s. 1, ch. 2017-13; s. 1, ch. 2023-148.