Today, Governor Rick Scott signed legislation that will expand the protections available to victims of domestic and sexual violence. Florida currently provides nearly $6.5 million for rape prevention and sexual assault services which is in addition to $29 million available for domestic violence programs. Legislation signed today will provide an additional $1.5 million to pay for relocation services for women who are victims of sexual battery.
"While Florida has a 40-year low crime rate, we must continue to protect the rights of individuals affected by crime. This critical legislation I have signed into law shows the valuable steps Florida has made in protecting the rights of victims," said Governor Rick Scott. "April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week and it is an important time to raise attention to promoting victims' rights and remember those lives affected by violence. We will continue to work to keep our communities safe so that fewer people are victims of crime."
Legislation approved today will increase funding for female victims of abuse and is coupled with critical programmatic and legal changes that will help prevent incidents of abuse from occurring.
Legislation Signed by Governor Scott
HB 1355: Protection of Vulnerable Persons
* Legislation increases the requirements for reporting known or suspected abuse of a child and establishes stricter criminal penalties for individuals who fail to report such abuse. It also authorizes additional spending to support victims of sexual abuse and to increase the state's capacity to process additional reporting.
HB 701: Florida Evidence Codes
* Legislation provides exceptions to the hearsay rule, under certain conditions, and at the approval of the trial judge, to allow victims statements made outside the courtroom (such as statements to a 911 operator, law enforcement, or rape counselor's) to be used as evidence in court proceedings.
HB 1099: Stalking
* Legislation expands protections for victims of stalkers by removing the burden for the victim to prove that the person making the threat has intent to actually carry out the threat and expands the definition of threat to include verbal and nonverbal threats and those made through electronic means.
* Makes it easier for victims to secure an injunction for protection through the courts by creating a statutory cause for action against stalking and requires the courts to consider issuing an injunction for a longer period of time.
HB 1193: Public Records Protections for Victims of Violence
* Legislation expands the protection of public record access of any personal contact information that may be used for the Clerk of the Court to notify victims of domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence and dating violence.
* Legislation ensures personal information of victims of domestic or sexual violence is protected in court proceedings.