Sex crimes bill advances in Senate

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The Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment to the US Constitution provides that the accused have the right to be confronted with witnesses against them — generally thought to mean a face-to-face confrontation where accusers offer testimony and are cross-examined at trial — but there are thankfully exceptions made when it comes to child victims of sexual abuse.

SB 1114 cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, and if enacted would mean that minors up to the age of 16 would not be forced to testify in court regarding sex crimes against them. Under current law, out-of-court statements by children 11 years and younger may be relayed to the court without necessitating the child taking the stand. Bill proponents feel that in many cases, child sex crimes victims do not have the psychological condition to endure trial.  The Florida Public Defenders Association says it would support a smaller increase of age up to 14 years, but that when it comes to such serious, life-changing cases due process is particularly important.

SB 1114 also includes various other measures related to sexual crimes and penalties.  It moves now to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, and from there to Senate Appropriations.