Ambiguities in the victim’s rights amendment approved by voters are creating headaches for law enforcement agencies across the state.
Different agencies in the same county have different ideas of what’s required, and both legislative changes and lawsuits are on the horizon.
The amendment giving crime victims new rights barely squeaked into the constitution with just over 61 percent of the vote.
Now, the First Amendment Foundation and virtually every police legal advisor in the state says the amendment leaves too many questions unanswered.
Ambiguous is the word most are using.
At the Tallahassee Police Department, every victim’s name from every report is being redacted, including reports from years ago.
“We can not, basically reveal the victim’s name, and or their family or their location,” said TPD spokesmen Damon Miller.
“So a lot of things will be dependent on the relationship to the victims.”
While in the state Capitol, the police department is redacting everything, the sheriff’s department isn’t redacting anything unless the victim requests it.
Richard Greenberg is the President of the Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Association.
He calls what the amend does, unprecedented.
“The public could be able to provide information, but if they don’t know who the victim is or maybe where the incident occurred, things like that, it’s going to hinder law enforcement,” said Greenberg.
State lawmakers have already held a roundtable and legislation to clarify the amendment will be filed.
Court challenges, particularly a federal challenge, over the rights of the accused is also in the works.
A similar amendment in Montana was declared unconstitutional and courts in states where it has been adopted are reviewing its constitutionality.