Florida Senate - 2021 SB 1328
By Senator Book
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to vulnerable victims and witnesses;
3 amending s. 92.55, F.S.; revising the standard for
4 orders to protect certain testifying victims and
5 witnesses; prohibiting depositions of certain victims
6 and witnesses in certain proceedings without a showing
7 of good cause; authorizing the court to allow such
8 depositions under certain circumstances; revising
9 factors to be considered by a court in a motion
10 seeking to protect a victim or witness; revising
11 provisions related to available relief; requiring the
12 court to appoint a guardian ad litem or other advocate
13 for the deponent under certain circumstances;
14 authorizing the court to request the aid of an
15 interpreter; requiring the court to make specific
16 findings of fact on the record for certain orders and
17 rulings; providing an effective date.
19 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
21 Section 1. Section 92.55, Florida Statutes, is amended to
23 92.55 Judicial or other proceedings involving certain
24 victims and witnesses
victim or witness under the age of 18, a
25 person who has an intellectual disability, or a sexual offense
26 victim or witness; special protections; use of therapy animals
27 or facility dogs.—
28 (1) For purposes of this section, the term:
29 (c) (a) “Sexual offense victim or witness” means a person
30 who was under the age of 18 when he or she was the victim of or
31 a witness to a sexual offense.
32 (a) “Facility dog” means a dog that has been trained,
33 evaluated, and certified as a facility dog pursuant to industry
34 standards and provides unobtrusive emotional support to children
35 and adults in facility settings.
36 (b) “Sexual offense” means any offense specified in s.
37 775.21(4)(a)1. or s. 943.0435(1)(h)1.a.(I).
38 (d) “Therapy animal” means an animal that has been trained,
39 evaluated, and certified as a therapy animal pursuant to
40 industry standards by an organization that certifies animals as
41 appropriate to provide animal therapy.
42 (2) Upon motion of any party; , upon motion of a parent,
43 guardian, attorney, guardian ad litem, or other advocate
44 appointed by the court under s. 914.17 for a victim or witness
45 under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual
46 disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness; , or upon its
47 own motion, the court may enter any order necessary to protect
48 the person victim or witness in any judicial proceeding or other
49 official proceeding from moderate or severe emotional or mental
50 harm due to the presence of the defendant if the victim or
51 witness is required to testify in open court. Such orders must
52 relate to the taking of testimony and include, but are not
53 limited to:
54 (a) Interviewing or the taking of depositions as part of a
55 civil or criminal proceeding.
56 (b) Examination and cross-examination for the purpose of
57 qualifying as a witness or testifying in any proceeding.
58 (c) The use of testimony taken outside of the courtroom,
59 including proceedings under ss. 92.53 and 92.54.
60 (3)(a) Depositions are not permitted, except upon a showing
61 of good cause, of victims or witnesses younger than the age of
62 18, persons who have intellectual disabilities, or sexual
63 offense victims in judicial proceedings or other official
64 proceedings involving any of the following:
65 1. Murder under s. 782.04.
66 2. Manslaughter under s. 782.07.
67 3. Sexual battery under s. 794.011.
68 4. Lewd or lascivious offenses under s. 800.04.
69 5. Computer pornography under s. 847.0135 or the
70 transmission of pornography by electronic device or equipment
71 under s. 847.0137.
72 6. Human trafficking under s. 787.06.
73 7. Kidnapping under s. 787.01.
74 8. False imprisonment under s. 787.02.
75 9. Aggravated cyberstalking under s. 784.048.
76 10. Child abuse or neglect of a child under s. 827.03.
77 11. Use of a child in a sexual performance under s.
79 12. Any offense constituting domestic violence, as defined
80 in s. 741.28.
81 13. Abuse, abandonment, or neglect of children under
82 chapter 39 or chapter 827.
83 (b) Upon written motion and written findings that a
84 deposition is necessary to assist a trial, that the evidence
85 sought is not reasonably available by any other means, and that
86 the probative value of the testimony outweighs the potential
87 detriment to the person to be deposed, the court may authorize
88 the taking of a deposition and may order protections deemed
89 necessary, including those provided in this section.
90 (4) (3) In ruling upon a the motion filed under this
91 section, the court may shall consider:
92 (a) The age of the victim or witness. child,
93 (b) The nature of the offense or act. ,
94 (c) The complexity of the issues involved.
95 (d) The relationship of the victim or witness child to the
96 parties in the case or to the defendant in a criminal action. ,
97 (e) The degree of emotional or mental harm trauma that will
98 result to the child as a consequence of the examination,
99 interview, or testimony. defendant’s presence, and
100 (f) The functional capacity of the victim or witness if he
101 or she has an intellectual disability.
102 (g) The age of the sexual offense victim or witness when
103 the sexual offense occurred.
104 (h) Any other fact that the court deems relevant. ;
105 (b) The age of the person who has an intellectual
106 disability, the functional capacity of such person, the nature
107 of the offenses or act, the relationship of the person to the
108 parties in the case or to the defendant in a criminal action,
109 the degree of emotional trauma that will result to the person as
110 a consequence of the defendant’s presence, and any other fact
111 that the court deems relevant; or
112 (c)The age of the sexual offense victim or witness when the
113 sexual offense occurred, the relationship of the sexual offense
114 victim or witness to the parties in the case or to the defendant
115 in a criminal action, the degree of emotional trauma that will
116 result to the sexual offense victim or witness as a consequence
117 of the defendant’s presence, and any other fact that the court
118 deems relevant.
119 (5) (4) In addition to such other relief provided by law,
120 the court may enter orders it deems just and appropriate for the
121 protection of limiting the number of times that a child, a
122 person who has an intellectual disability, or a sexual offense
123 victim or witness, including limiting the number of times a
124 victim or witness may be interviewed, limiting the length and
125 scope of a deposition, requiring a deposition to be taken only
126 by written questions, requiring a deposition to be in the
127 presence of a trial judge or magistrate, sealing the tape or
128 transcript of a deposition until further order of the court,
129 allowing use of a therapy animal or facility dog prohibiting
130 depositions of the victim or witness, requiring the submission
131 of questions before the examination of the victim or witness,
132 setting the place and conditions for interviewing the victim or
133 witness or for conducting any other proceeding, or permitting or
134 prohibiting the attendance of any person at any proceeding. The
135 court shall enter any order necessary to protect the rights of
136 all parties, including the defendant in any criminal action.
137 (6) Section 794.022 applies to depositions taken pursuant
138 to this section. If a deposition is taken pursuant to this
139 section, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem or other
140 advocate pursuant to s. 914.17 to represent the deponent for the
141 purposes of the deposition if the deponent does not already have
143 (7) The court, on its own motion or that of any party, may
144 request the aid of an interpreter, as provided in s. 90.606, to
145 aid the parties in formulating methods of questioning the person
146 who has an intellectual disability or the sexual offense victim
147 or witness and in interpreting the answers of the person who has
148 an intellectual disability or the sexual offense victim or
149 witness during proceedings conducted under this section.
150 (8) The court shall make specific findings of fact on the
151 record as to the basis for its orders and rulings under this
153 (5) The court may set any other conditions it finds just
154 and appropriate when taking the testimony of a victim or witness
155 under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual
156 disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness, including the
157 use of a therapy animal or facility dog, in any proceeding
158 involving a sexual offense or child abuse, abandonment, or
160 (a) When deciding whether to permit a victim or witness
161 under the age of 18, a person who has an intellectual
162 disability, or a sexual offense victim or witness to testify
163 with the assistance of a therapy animal or facility dog, the
164 court shall consider the age of the child victim or witness, the
165 age of the sexual offense victim or witness at the time the
166 sexual offense occurred, the interests of the child victim or
167 witness or sexual offense victim or witness, the rights of the
168 parties to the litigation, and any other relevant factor that
169 would facilitate the testimony by the victim or witness under
170 the age of 18, person who has an intellectual disability, or
171 sexual offense victim or witness.
172 (b) For purposes of this subsection the term:
173 1. “Facility dog” means a dog that has been trained,
174 evaluated, and certified as a facility dog pursuant to industry
175 standards and provides unobtrusive emotional support to children
176 and adults in facility settings.
177 2. “Therapy animal” means an animal that has been trained,
178 evaluated, and certified as a therapy animal pursuant to
179 industry standards by an organization that certifies animals as
180 appropriate to provide animal therapy.
181 Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.