Victims of domestic violence have specific rights under the Florida Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights. Victims of crimes or their lawful representatives, including 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 constitutional rights of the accused (CASA, 2019).
A victim impact statement allows victims to describe to the court the impact of the crime. A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender’s sentence. Victim impact statements are optional and can be presented orally or in a written format to the judge (CASA, 2019).
Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming a victim, can file for an Injunction for Protection. A Repeat Violence Injunction requires two unrelated incidents of violence or stalking, one of which must have occurred within six months of filing for the petition (Florida Statutes, 2023).
An injunction (sometimes referred to as a restraining order) is a court order that tells one person to stay away from and not contact another person. Unless the court order says otherwise, this means no contact by phone, email, text messages, letter, in person, or other method (Florida Courts, 2023, October 25).
An injunction can tell someone to stay away from the protected person's home, car, work, and any other places that the court feels is necessary. This is done in civil court, not criminal court. So, the person who requests the injunction keeps the case going. An injunction does not ask the court to put the other person in jail, but if a person violates an injunction, he or she may be arrested and face criminal charges (Florida Courts, 2023, October 25).
Victims of domestic violence have the right to be present and heard at:
- bond hearings (CASA, 2019)
Victims of domestic violence in Florida also have the legal right to request restitution and victim compensation. This can include:
- domestic violence relocation
- medical/dental expenses
- mental health counseling
- wage loss
- property loss (60+ or disabled adult)
- disability compensation
- funeral/burial expenses
- human trafficking relocation
- sexual battery relocation (CASA, 2019)
Florida domestic violence laws include help for victims, including:
- injunctions for protection
- address confidentiality
- batterer intervention programs
- child protection
- domestic violence and rape crisis programs
- supervised visitation
- time off work
- relocation assistance (Harrison and Thompson, 2022)
A person charged with domestic violence may be required to attend a 29-week Batterer Intervention Program (BIP). These are court-ordered community-based programs intended to provide standardized training, hold batterers responsible for their violence, and provide tools for establishing and maintaining non-abusive relationships. The basis of the BIP is to identify power and control as the central issue related to abusive behavior. The program is funded through fees from program participants.
For more information about this and other legal rights, call the Office of Domestic Violence at 800 500-1119.
5.1 Florida Programs and Resources
A variety of support and intervention programs are available to anyone who has experienced or has a reasonable fear of experiencing domestic violence. The Florida Partnership to End Domestic Violence (FPEDV) was founded in 2020 and serves as a state-level resource center for domestic violence.
FPEDV supports survivors by advocating for social change and connecting them with its members who provide direct support and services. It works in partnership with domestic violence shelter programs, policymakers, and the general public to spread awareness, promote change. Its goal is to end domestic violence in Florida.
FPEDV is a federally designated coalition responsible for delivering and managing services for the state’s domestic violence programs. It provides education, support, and technical assistance for domestic violence service providers to effectively operate emergency shelter and supportive services for survivors of domestic violence and their dependents. Additionally, FPEDV:
- Serves as an information clearinghouse, primary point of contact, and resource center on domestic violence in the state of Florida.
- Follows and provides updates on relevant national developments.
- Supports the development of policies, protocols, and procedures to enhance domestic violence intervention and prevention in Florida.
- Works cooperatively with all related state and federal agencies to provide the highest level of safety and services to adult and children survivors of domestic violence.
The FPEDV also operates and manages the statewide 24-Hour Florida Domestic Violence Hotline (800 500 1119). Hotline advocates provide support, advocacy, information, and referral services for survivors of domestic violence, their children, families, and friends.
5.1.1 Domestic Violence Centers
Florida’s 41 certified domestic violence centers are community-based agencies that provide services to the victims of intimate violence. The centers offer temporary emergency shelter, advocacy, and crisis intervention services to provide victims with the resources necessary to be safe and live free of violence (FL DCF, 2023b).
- 24-hour hotline
- temporary emergency shelter
- safety planning
- information and referral
- counseling and case management
- non-residential outreach services
- training for law enforcement personnel
- needs assessment and referrals for resident children
- educational services for community awareness related to domestic violence and available services/resources for survivors (FL DCF, 2023)
5.1.2 Rural Economic Development Initiative
Survivors of domestic and sexual violence in rural areas are among the most isolated and vulnerable in the state of Florida. The statewide Rural Initiative and Rural Underserved projects are designed to enhance the safety of domestic violence survivors and their children who have been battered in rural communities. Rural projects are based on a community organizing model whereby community, judicial, and law enforcement partners come together to explore and implement strategies that provide coordinated, community-based services to survivors of domestic violence (FDCF, 2023c).
5.1.3 The Economic Justice Initiative
The Florida Department of Children and Families also supports the Economic Justice Initiative, which addresses economic and housing issues that threaten the long-term independence and safety of survivors and their children.
The mission of Economic Justice Initiative is to provide training, information, and resources to address the economic conditions that create barriers to the long-term independence and safety of survivors and their children. Ultimately, economic justice means equality for survivors and the ability to make decisions about their lives and intimate relationships without fear of negative financial impact (FDCF, 2023c).
5.1.4 The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD)
APD supports individuals with unique abilities and their families in living, learning and working within their communities by creating multiple pathways to possibilities. APD identifies the service needs of people with developmental disabilities, and those individuals may receive social, medical, behavioral, residential, and/or therapeutic services.
APD maintains a Zero Tolerance program that focuses on the maltreatment of people with disabilities. The program provides guidelines to agency staff for preventing, detecting, reporting, and responding to abuse, neglect, and exploitation and sexual misconduct against their clients. Additional services include detection and reporting responsibilities, known and suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation reporting, risk reduction and prevention, disciplinary actions relating to verified findings, monitoring, and quality assurance, and zero tolerance training.
For more information, call 850 488 4257 or visit their website here:
5.1.5 The InVEST Program
InVEST is a coordinated community response effort intended to reduce the number of intimate partner homicides in each participating Florida county. The program is designed to encourage local law enforcement agencies and their community partners to treat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking as serious violations of criminal law requiring the coordinated involvement of the entire criminal justice system (FDCF, 2023c).
The certified domestic violence center and partnering law enforcement agency enter into a collaborative relationship to simultaneously increase the domestic violence services offered to survivors as well as perpetrator accountability throughout the criminal and civil justice process which includes engaging in daily collaborative reviews of police reports in order to determine high-risk domestic violence cases and to make contact with survivors to determine if they are interested in participating in the program. This partnership heavily relies on the commitment of certified domestic violence centers, law enforcement, and other allied partners to establish working relationships and procedures that can best contribute to the reduction of intimate partner homicides in their community (FDCF, 2023c).
5.2 Fatality Review Teams
Florida is one of few states to have both a Statewide Fatality Review team and local teams that review domestic violence fatalities occurring in their communities. Operating from a “no blame, no shame” philosophy, all teams function in accordance with statutory mandates to maintain confidentiality of the identity of a victim of domestic violence or the identity of the children of the victim and uphold public records exemptions when reviewing fatality related information (FDCF, 2023c).
Fatality review teams are governed by Chapter 741, Florida Statutes. The statutes define a domestic violence fatality review team and provide guidance on membership and the types of cases reviewed by the teams (FDCF, 2023c).