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New Florida bills expand protections to domestic violence victims

| Jun 19, 2012 | Domestic Violence

Although lauding the statistics showing that Florida has an overall crime rate presently that is the lowest in many decades, Gov. Rick Scott recently voiced the need for additional protections to benefit would-be and actual victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

In conjunction with his statement that “we must continue to provide our law enforcement officers with the tools they need to keep our communities safe,” Scott signed several new bills into law in a ceremony earlier this month.

One of those pieces of legislation is House Bill 1099, which focuses on stalking. Current Florida law is now expanded to include cyberstalking as a crime for which strong criminal penalties can attach, with lawmakers noting that stalking is an activity that can lead to personal contacts and instances of domestic violence. A restraining order can ban a defendant from victim contact for up to 10 years, with violation of an injunction subjecting a person to a potential year in jail.

House Bill 1193 provides for additional victim protection through the creation of a public records exemption for a victim’s personal contact information where an injunction against domestic abuse is concerned.

More stringent protection against children being abused is also the focal point of House 1355, “Protection of Vulnerable Persons.” Newly crafted legislation now provides for an imposition of heavier penalties upon persons who know that child abuse is occurring yet do not inform authorities about it.

Schools and universities are especially singled out in the bill, with the law providing that a $1 million fine can be imposed for failure to report child abuse.

Source: Sunshine State News, “Rick Scott signs cyberstalking, sex predator bills,” Jim Turner, June 11, 2012

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