A Message from Sheriff Michael J. Chitwood
Crime victims and those who witness criminal offenses are vitally important to the criminal justice system. This is recognized by the Florida Victim/Witness Protection Act of 1984 and is emphasized every day at the Volusia Sheriff’s Office. As part of this effort, we provide clear and concise information in a timely manner to crime victims. As a victim or witness of a crime, this brochure is printed and distributed by the Sheriff's Office to furnish information that will help you get support and assistance. This publication also serves as a reference guide to all services available in Volusia County and is designed to ensure that the rights of crime victims and witnesses are protected.
As a victim/witness, you are ensured certain rights. These rights include:
In addition to any punishment, the Court may order the defendant to make restitution to the victim for damages or loss caused directly or indirectly by the defendant's offense. Restitution may be monetary or non-monetary. The Court shall make the payment of restitution a condition of probation. The State Attorney has the responsibility to present to the Court the dollar amount and items to be considered in any restitution hearing. Victims have a right of enforcement in the event an offender does not comply with a restitution order. For this reason, the Victim Impact Statement Forms and Restitution Statement Forms must be filled out and documentation supplied to the Assistant State Attorney handling the case at the earliest possible time. The State Attorney’s Office or the Volusia Sheriff’s Office may be contacted for further information.
If you are a victim of a crime, you may be eligible for monetary reimbursement of medical bills incurred and loss of wages through the Florida Crimes Compensation Program. The purpose of the program is to provide compensation to innocent victims of crime or their families who suffer physical injury or death as a direct result of a crime. The Victims Compensation Trust Fund helps victims of violent personal crime pay for stipulated expenses they incur as a result of the crime. This is different than restitution paid by the defendant. In order to apply for Crimes Compensation, you must complete the appropriate forms and mail them to the local Crimes Compensation Office. These forms are available through hospitals, law enforcement agencies and the State Attorney's Office. More information on victim assistance or compensation can be obtained by calling the state's toll-free number (800-226-6667), the Volusia Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate Program (386-254-1537) or the State Attorney’s Victim’s Advocate at 386-239-7720 or toll free at 888-502-5668.
You are very important to a successful conclusion of a criminal investigation. It is normal for you to feel anxious about providing information to law enforcement personnel and testifying in court. However, if such help is not given, the person who committed the crime may go undetected and unpunished.
Florida law prohibits any person from using intimidation, physical force, threats, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct, or offers any benefit or gain, with the intent to influence testimony or induce a victim/witness not to testify, or to hinder the investigation or proceedings. Florida law also prohibits retaliation against victims/ witnesses. These acts are serious crimes. Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts will act upon them promptly.
If you are threatened, intimidated or believe a person has attempted or is attempting to influence your testimony, or if you or any member of your family in any way feels threatened, immediately contact the Volusia Sheriff’s Office or any local law enforcement agency. The Sheriff’s Office will take the appropriate steps to enhance your protection as a victim or witness during all phases of the criminal investigation and in any judicial proceedings.
Right to be informed
A victim who is not incarcerated, including the next of kin of a homicide victim, has the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevant at all crucial stages of a criminal proceeding, to the extent that this right does not interfere with constitutional rights of the accused is provided by s.16 (b), Art. I of the State Constitution.
Incarcerated victims have the right to be informed and to submit written statements at all crucial stages of the criminal proceedings and the parole proceedings.
There may be additional proceedings in your case including appellate review, subsequent modification of sentence, or collateral attack of a judgment. When a term of imprisonment , detention, or involuntary commitment is imposed, the defendant may be released from such imprisonment or commitment by expiration of sentence or parole. The victim will receive notification if any of the above proceedings are scheduled.
The Sheriff's Office will promptly notify the victim of the arrest of the accused.
The victim, material witness, parents or legal guardian of a minor who is a witness or victim, or the immediate relatives of a homicide victim will be provided advance notification of judicial and post-judicial proceedings related to:
- Escape of an offender from a state correctional institution, county jail, juvenile detention facility, or involuntary commitment facility.
- The release of the accused pending judicial proceedings or of any modification of release conditions.
- Proceedings in the prosecution of the accused.
- When a minor is the victim of a crime committed by another minor: If the victim or the sibling of the victim attends or is eligible to attend the same school as the offender, the appropriate agency shall notify the victims parent or legal guardian of the right to attend sentencing or disposition of the offender and request that the offender be required to attend a different school.
- A victim should be notified when an inmate (related to that victims case) has been approved for community control or work release. If the victim is a minor the notification will be made to the victims parent or legal guardian of the minor or the next of kin if the victim is a homicide victim.
- A victim of a sex offense shall be informed of the right to have the courtroom cleared of certain person(s) when the victim is testifying.
- The victim has the right to request the presence of a victim advocate during the forensic medical examination. An advocate from a certified rape crisis center shall be permitted to attend any forensic medical examination.
- A victim of domestic violence shall be provided with information regarding the address confidentiality program. This information is available through the Domestic Abuse Counsel.
You will be notified by the agency scheduling your appearance of any change in scheduling which may affect your appearance. In order to receive these notifications it is important that you keep the Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney’s Office and Victim/Witness Coordinator informed about any change in address or telephone number. Refer to your case number when you call.
In felony cases involving physical or emotional injury or trauma, or in the case in which the victim is a minor child or in a homicide, the guardian or family of the victim will be consulted by the State Attorney's Office in order to obtain views about:
- The release of the accused., pending judicial proceedings.
- Plea agreements.
- Pretrial intervention programs.
- The sentencing of the accused.
A victim may file an Impact Statement with the Court at any time before sentence is imposed on the offender. At that time, a victim may tell the judge exactly what impact the crime has had upon his or her life. Medical costs, mental anguish, lost wages and impaired mobility (to name only a few) are all relevant details that the Judge can take into account before sentencing the offender.
A Victim Impact Statement Form may be obtained from the State Attorney's Office. Victim Assistance Program personnel in your area are available to assist you in completing the form.
The completed document will then be placed in the court file to be presented to the judge for consideration. Additionally, it may be necessary for you to be present in Court in order to testify about the impact of the crime on you.
As a victim, you have the right to a prompt and timely disposition of the case in order to minimize the period during which you must endure the responsibilities and stress involved to the extent that this right does not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
A victim of a criminal offense which involves the transmission of body fluids is entitled to know at the earliest possible opportunity whether the person charged with or alleged by petition for delinquency to have committed the offense has tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
A victim or the victim’s legal guardian, or the parent or legal guardian of the victim if the victim is a minor, may request the court to order HIV testing. Contact the State Attorney’s Office for assistance.
Many services are available through local programs located within the area. Referrals to these crisis intervention services, supportive or bereavement counseling, social service support, and community-based victim treatment programs are available from any employee of the Volusia Sheriff's Office.
Information on these programs may be obtained by calling the United Way First Call for Help. The phone numbers are listed in the back of this pamphlet.
State Attorney’s Office
The State Attorney’s Office provides the necessary information to file for restitution or compensation and the preparation of Victim Impact Statements. They also provide a Victim Advocacy program for victims of certain crimes. You may request that the State Attorney’s Office assign a victim advocate to you if you meet the necessary criteria.
Sheriff’s Office Services
It is the policy of the Volusia Sheriff’s Office to provide and maintain a strong link between the victims of a crime or tragedy and the Sheriff’s Office.
The Volusia Sheriff’s Office goal is to assist victims of a crime and their families to return to the level of normalcy enjoyed prior to the offense or tragedy, and to ensure compliance with Chapter 960 of the Florida Statutes. Services offered by the Sheriff’s Office include:
- Protection - The Sheriff’s Office will take the appropriate steps to protect victims and witnesses.
- Scheduling - Line-ups, interviews and other appearances required by the Sheriff’s Office will be scheduled at the convenience of the victim/witness, when possible.
- Work Notification - Upon request, the Sheriff's Office will provide written notification to the employer that the need of the victim/witness may necessitate absence from work.
- Creditor Notification Assistance - In cases in which the victim/witness has been subjected to serious financial strain as a result of the case or incident, the Sheriff’s Office or State Attorney’s Office will provide, if requested, documentation to notify the creditors of the victim of the serious financial strain caused as a direct result of the crime.
- Support - Victim Advocate Program has trained Advocates that will provide emotional support as well as a wide array of services and victim assistance. Advocates will also serve as a liaison between the victim and Law Enforcement. The Chaplain’s Program has trained personnel able to provide emotional support.
- Information - In addition to this pamphlet, the Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Investigators will provide information on the procedures involved in the prosecution of cases and the victim/witness role in those procedures.
- Referrals - All Sheriff’s Office employees may provide referrals to other community resources. Referrals may be made by the Deputy handling your case or by calling the Sheriff’s Office Communications Center.
- Return of Property - When possible, the Sheriff’s Office will attempt to photograph your property, substitute the photographs as evidence and return the property to you unless there is a compelling reason to retain the property until after the trial process is over. If your property is being held as evidence, authorization to release the property must come from the State Attorney's Office. If you have questions or require assistance, please contact the Sheriff’s Office.
- Victim Notification -The Sheriff’s Office will promptly attempt to notify the victim or in the case of a homicide, a relative of a homicide victim, of the arrest of the accused.
The Volusia County Witness Coordinator provides the following services to victims and witnesses:
- Coordinating court appearances, including pretrial conferences and depositions, for all witnesses who are subpoenaed in criminal cases.
- Contacting witnesses and securing information necessary to place the witness on an on-call status with regard to his court appearance.
- Contacting witnesses to advise them not to report to court in the event the case for which they have been subpoenaed has been continued or has had a plea entered, or in the event there is any other reason why their attendance is not required on the dates they have been ordered to report.
- Contacting the employer of a witness, when necessary, to confirm that the employee has been subpoenaed to appear in court.
- Providing information and assistance in regard to transportation, parking, separate waiting areas and translator services.
You as a Victim or Witness
Your role in the criminal justice process, including what you may expect from the system and what the system expects from you, is explained in this pamphlet.
Your involvement as a victim or witness begins when a crime is committed and reported to a law enforcement agency. Your role is vital in that you have knowledge, have seen or heard something concerning the act that was in violation of the law. One or more sheriff's deputies may interview you with questions about the details of the crime, identity of suspects, location of the crime scene and other witnesses. It is important to recognize that investigations of crimes can be time consuming and your cooperation is necessary. Unlike movies or television, where crimes are investigated, arrests made and prosecution completed in the space of one or two hours, the Criminal Justice System must work within legal guidelines and definite procedures which may take days, weeks or even months.
The Criminal Justice Process
There are several stages in the criminal or juvenile justice process which are of significance to the victim or witness.
Stage I - Arrest. This stage follows the steps of an offender from the commission of the crime to arrest. This stage includes steps such as:
- Filing of charges by complainant.
- Investigation by Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Investigators.
- Booking, fingerprinting and photographing the defendants at jail.
It is during this stage that the investigation of the crime will be conducted by the Sheriff’s Office. Depending on the type of crime committed, your case may be investigated by a uniformed Deputy, or possibly, an Investigator who specializes in a particular category of crimes. Processing of evidence may be required by a crime scene technician or later laboratory analysis. The Deputy or Investigator handling your case may need to re-contact you for additional information or to provide you with an updated status of your case. If suspects have been identified or arrested, the case may be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for legal action.
No law enforcement officer, prosecuting attorney or government official shall ask or require a victim of a sexual offense to submit to a polygraph examination or other truth-telling device as a condition of the investigation.
Stage II - Arraignment in Open Court. The Defendant’s initial appearance or arraignment in open court may include:
- Reading of rights and charges.
- Entering of plea.
- Setting of bail.
- Release on bail or recognizance.
For many crimes, including assaults with weapons, burglary and thefts of items of over $300.00 in value, bail bond amounts have been previously determined by the Courts and are contained in a list of standard bond amounts. If the accused is unable to post the standard bond amount or if the murder, rape, robbery or type of charge is not included in the standard bond list, the accused will go to a hearing within 24 hours after arrest.
This is called "First Appearance Hearing" At this hearing the judge listens to the facts, determines if there is "probable cause," decides whether a bond amount will be set and, if so, determines the amount.
Some defendants will post bond immediately after arrest and will be released. You may contact the Volusia County Department of Corrections to determine if the defendant has been or may be released, if that information is needed.
Stage III- Post Arraignment Procedures. This stage may involve hearings on a variety of motions. Preliminary hearings, probable cause determinations, discovery, and hearings on other motions may be conducted during this stage. A trial date may be set at this time.
Stage IV - Trial. The steps involving a trial may include:
- Bench or jury trial; impanel jury.
- Opening statements.
- Prosecutor’s case to establish burden of proof.
- Motion by Defense
- Defense case.
- Rebuttal case by prosecutor.
- Closing argument and summation.
- Charge to jury.
Stage V - Post Disposition. This stage includes several steps which may be followed if a defendant is found guilty. They include:
- Pre-sentence investigations and reports including criminal history.
- Sentencing which may include probation, fine, jail/prison, or death penalty.
- Discharge or conditional release.
You may receive additional information about these stages by contacting the Sheriff’s Office or the State Attorney’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office can answer questions regarding the investigation and arrest of offenders while the State Attorney’s Office can provide information on the subsequent stages.
Conduct in court
CARE OF CHILDREN - Unfortunately, there are no facilities to care for children at the courthouse. Since court proceedings may take some time, please try to find someone to care for your children while you attend court.
YOUR TESTIMONY - You may be needed to testify in depositions, hearings and trials. The State Attorney’s Office can provide information regarding your testimony. You may also view more information on the Sheriff’s Office Internet web page.
Volusia County Telephone Directory
Non-Emergencies: Sheriff’s Office Communications Center
- DeLand (386) 736-5999
- Daytona Beach (386) 248-1777
- Deltona /DeBary (407) 323-0151
- New Smyrna Beach (386) 423-3888
Volusia Sheriff’s Office District Headquarters
- District 2 (DeLand) (386) 943-7866
- District 3 (Holly Hill) (386) 323-0151
- District 4 (Deltona) (386) 860-7030
- District 5 (New Smyrna Beach) (386) 423-3301
- District 6 (DeBary) (386) 668-3830
Volusia Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate Program
State Attorney’s Victim’s Advocate
United Way First Call For Help 24-hour Hotlines
- East Volusia (386) 253-0564
- TDD and Fax (386) 253-0563
- West Volusia (386) 734-9430
- Southeast Volusia (386) 427-7714
Domestic Abuse 24-hour Hotlines
- East Volusia (386) 255-2102
- West Volusia (386) 738-4080
Victim/Witness Assistance Information
The Sheriff’s Office provides a single point of contact that is available 24 hours a day to provide information regarding victim/witness assistance supplied by the Sheriff’s Office directly. This same point of contact provides referral information regarding services offered in Volusia County by other organizations for victims/witnesses in need of medical attention, counseling, and emergency financial assistance. Simply call:
Volusia Sheriff’s Office Communications Center
Should you have any additional information or wish to receive information about the status of your case, please contact the Deputy whose name is listed below.
Volusia Sheriff's Office
P.O. Box 569
DeLand, Florida 32721-0569
CASE NUMBER _______________________________
DATE REPORTED: _____________________________
Volusia Sheriff’s Office Communications Center
DeLand (386) 736-5999
Daytona Beach (386) 248-1777
Deltona /DeBary (407) 323-0151
New Smyrna Beach (386) 423-3888