Florida Senate - 2017 SB 416 By Senator Montford 3-00146A-17 2017416__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to use of animals in proceedings 3 involving minors; amending s. 92.55, F.S.; specifying 4 that the court may allow the use of service animals, 5 therapy animals, or facility dogs in certain 6 proceedings; allowing certain animals to be used when 7 taking the testimony of a person who has an 8 intellectual disability; removing the requirement that 9 certain service or therapy animals must be registered; 10 providing an effective date. 11 12 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 13 14 Section 1. Section 92.55, Florida Statutes, is amended to 15 read: 16 92.55 Judicial or other proceedings involving victim or 17 witness under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual 18 disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness; special 19 protections; use of
registeredservice animals, ortherapy 20 animals, or facility dogs.— 21 (1) For purposes of this section, the term: 22 (a) “Sexual offense victim or witness” means a person who 23 was under the age of 18 when he or she was the victim of or a 24 witness to a sexual offense. 25 (b) “Sexual offense” means any offense specified in s. 26 775.21(4)(a)1. or s. 943.0435(1)(h)1.a.(I). 27 (2) Upon motion of any party, upon motion of a parent, 28 guardian, attorney, guardian ad litem, or other advocate 29 appointed by the court under s. 914.17 for a victim or witness 30 under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual 31 disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness, or upon its 32 own motion, the court may enter any order necessary to protect 33 the victim or witness in any judicial proceeding or other 34 official proceeding from severe emotional or mental harm due to 35 the presence of the defendant if the victim or witness is 36 required to testify in open court. Such orders must relate to 37 the taking of testimony and include, but are not limited to: 38 (a) Interviewing or the taking of depositions as part of a 39 civil or criminal proceeding. 40 (b) Examination and cross-examination for the purpose of 41 qualifying as a witness or testifying in any proceeding. 42 (c) The use of testimony taken outside of the courtroom, 43 including proceedings under ss. 92.53 and 92.54. 44 (3) In ruling upon the motion, the court shall consider: 45 (a) The age of the child, the nature of the offense or act, 46 the relationship of the child to the parties in the case or to 47 the defendant in a criminal action, the degree of emotional 48 trauma that will result to the child as a consequence of the 49 defendant’s presence, and any other fact that the court deems 50 relevant; 51 (b) The age of the person who has an intellectual 52 disability, the functional capacity of such person, the nature 53 of the offenses or act, the relationship of the person to the 54 parties in the case or to the defendant in a criminal action, 55 the degree of emotional trauma that will result to the person as 56 a consequence of the defendant’s presence, and any other fact 57 that the court deems relevant; or 58 (c) The age of the sexual offense victim or witness when 59 the sexual offense occurred, the relationship of the sexual 60 offense victim or witness to the parties in the case or to the 61 defendant in a criminal action, the degree of emotional trauma 62 that will result to the sexual offense victim or witness as a 63 consequence of the defendant’s presence, and any other fact that 64 the court deems relevant. 65 (4) In addition to such other relief provided by law, the 66 court may enter orders limiting the number of times that a 67 child, a person who has an intellectual disability, or a sexual 68 offense victim or witness may be interviewed, prohibiting 69 depositions of the victim or witness, requiring the submission 70 of questions before the examination of the victim or witness, 71 setting the place and conditions for interviewing the victim or 72 witness or for conducting any other proceeding, or permitting or 73 prohibiting the attendance of any person at any proceeding. The 74 court shall enter any order necessary to protect the rights of 75 all parties, including the defendant in any criminal action. 76 (5) The court may set any other conditions it finds just 77 and appropriate when taking the testimony of a child victim or 78 witness, ora sexual offense victim or witness, or a person who 79 has an intellectual disability, including the use of a service 80 animal, ortherapy animal, or facility dog that has been trained 81 and evaluated and registeredaccording to industry national82 standards, in any proceeding involving a sexual offense or child 83 abuse, abandonment, or neglect. When deciding whether to permit 84 a child victim or witness or sexual offense victim or witness to 85 testify with the assistance of a registeredservice animal, or86 therapy animal, or facility dog, the court shall consider the 87 age of the child victim or witness, the age of the sexual 88 offense victim or witness at the time the sexual offense 89 occurred, the interests of the child victim or witness or sexual 90 offense victim or witness, the rights of the parties to the 91 litigation, and any other relevant factor that would facilitate 92 the testimony by the child victim or witness or sexual offense 93 victim or witness. 94 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.