Crime definitions in Florida

victims_photo_1The following are some terms and their definitions that will help you understand the Judicial System:

PROSECUTOR: Every criminal case is handled by an Assistant State Attorney who is a lawyer. The job of the Assistant State Attorney is to prosecute those who break the laws of the State of Florida.

VICTIM: A victim of a crime is someone who has suffered psychological, physical or financial harm because of direct criminal actions by someone else.

WITNESS: A witness is someone who may know something about a crime that has been committed. The slightest information about a case may be important for successful prosecution. Please contact the State Attorney’s Office if you are harassed or threatened because you are a witness on a criminal case. If the State Attorney’s Office is closed, contact your local law enforcement agency.

DEFENDANT: The defendant is the person who is charged with committing a crime.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: A defense attorney is someone hired by the defendant or appointed by the court to defend and protect the constitutional rights of the accused.

SUBPOENA: A subpoena is a Court Order directing you to be present at the time and place stated. PLEASE READ YOUR SUBPOENA CAREFULLY. In the next few months you may be subpoenaed to testify at:

a) State Attorney Investigation: The Assistant State Attorney must decide whether there is sufficient information to take a case to trial. Although you may have already told everything you know to a Law Enforcement Officer, it may be necessary that the attorney here it from you under oath.
b) Deposition: Florida law gives the attorney for the defendant the right to interview all witnesses in the case after the charges are filed. The defendant’s attorney will ask you questions which you must answer truthfully. An Assistant State Attorney will be with you during your deposition. You also have the right to request the presence of a Victim Advocate.
c) Trial: In most cases, the defendant will plead guilty or no contest before trial. However, in some cases, the defendant will go to trial and you may be required to testify in court.

VICTIM/WITNESS COUNSELOR: The State Attorney’s Office has Victim/Witness Counselors available to assist you through the judicial process. Please feel free to contact them with any questions you may have about the judicial process, your rights as a victim or witness, and any medical or social services you may require. If you are required to come to the State Attorney’s Office or Courthouse, the Victim/Witness Counselor is available to discuss with you any questions you may have about transportation, childcare, courtroom attire or parking. Please discuss your needs with them.


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