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Sammis Law Firm

Victims of Juvenile Crimes

As a criminal defense attorney that practices in juvenile court in Tampa, FL, I am often asked about the rights that the victim has while the case is pending in juvenile court.

In some cases, including sexual misconduct cases, a parent might have one child accused of a crime in juvenile court while another child or family member is the alleged victim of that crime. Parents often have a difficult time dealing with the problems that come along with protecting their children and family during the process.

The State Attorney’s Victim Assistance / Domestic Violence Program was established to provide comprehensive services to the alleged victims of crime. The State Attorney’s Office will often send a letter to the victim or the victim’s parents or guardian asking for the victim to appear at the State Attorney’s Office to discuss the facts of the case. This meeting is often called the “invest.”

During the meeting, the Assistant State Attorney will talk with the alleged victim about the facts of the case to determine whether it should be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office. The State Attorney’s Office will also send a “witness-subpoena” with information about the date, time, and location of the scheduled appearance or “invest.”

The witness-subpoena is often called an “investigative subpoena” which means that no court date is involved. The subpoena orders the victim to appear for the purpose of giving truthful testimony in a matter which is pending and undetermined and in which the office of the State Attorney is conducting an investigation.

Failure to comply with the subpoena might subject the victim to penalties that can be imposed by the court. Although the victim has the right to be represented by an attorney, if the victim is not also suspected of committing a crime, the victim probably doesn’t need an attorney.

The victim of a juvenile crime generally has the following rights:

  • Police Reports: The victim of a juvenile crime has a right to receive a copy of the police report from law enforcement, however, the victim is required to maintain the confidential nature of the information in the report.
  • State Attorney Recommendation: The Department of Juvenile Justice will provide a recommendation to the State Attorney’s Office regarding how the case should be handled. If DJJ recommends that the State Attorney’s Office should not proceed with filing a delinquency charge, the victim has the right to be notified about this recommendation. If the victim does not agree with the recommendation, then the victim has the right to tell the State Attorney within 10 days of the notice.
  • Court Hearings: The alleged victim has the right to attend court hearings and to have advance notice of those hearings.
  • School: If the alleged victim and the accused attend the or ride the same bus as the youth charged with a violent felony (listed below), the offender, if found delinquent in court, will be moved to another school. Or, if a sibling of the victim goes to the same school or rides the same school bus as the youth charged with the crime, the offender will be moved to a different school. The Department of Juvenile Justice will notify the school district if the youth is found delinquent. As the victim, you may decide that it is okay for the offender to go to school with you. If this is the case, let the court know. Also be aware that the court may keep the offender at your school if the school has tried in every way possible to move the offender but is not able to move him or her. The law will stay in effect for as long as you and/or your siblings are in the school system. Those violent felony offenses include:
    • homicide as defined in Florida Statutes, Chapter 782;
    • assault, battery and culpable negligence defined in Florida Statute, Chapter 784;
    • kidnapping, false imprisonment, luring or enticing a child, and custody offenses defined in Florida Statutes, Chapter 787;
    • sexual battery defined in Florida Statute Chapter 794;
    • lewdness and indecent exposure defined in Florida Statute Chapter 800;
    • robbery defined in Florida Statute Section 812.13;
    • robbery by sudden snatching defined in Florida Statute Section 812.133; and
    • home invasion robbery defined in Florida Statutes Section 812.135.
  • No Contact Orders: Even for a victim of a crime when the crime is not included on the list of violent crimes listed above, the victim can still request that the judge order the youth to stay away from the victim or the victim’s siblings for the length of time that the youth is under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
  • Notification: The victim of the following crimes listed below has the right to be notified of the offender’s release from juvenile detention or residential commitment (and the victim has the right to waive this notification in writing):
    • Homicide under Chapter 782;
    • Felony Sexual Offense under Chapter 794;
    • Attempted murder or sexual offense under Chapter 777;
    • Stalking under 784.048; or
    • Domestic Violence under 25.385.

Contact a criminal defense attorney for juvenile court in Tampa, FL, to find out more about the juvenile justice system in Hillsborough County. Call (813) 250-0500.

This article was last updated on Friday, October 7, 2022.