Florida Senate - 2012 SB 782 By Senator Bennett 21-00433-12 2012782__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the Florida Evidence Code; amending 3 s. 90.803, F.S.; providing that certain specified 4 spontaneous statements relating to a call to an 5 emergency operations center, such as police, fire, or 6 emergency rescue personnel, is admissible as evidence 7 if the call is for the immediate dispatch of personnel 8 for emergency purposes; providing that an excited 9 utterance made by a victim to an emergency responder, 10 including police, fire, or emergency personnel, is 11 admissible if the victim or witness is under the 12 stress or excitement of the event while the statement 13 is being made; providing an exception to the 14 inadmissibility of a hearsay statement of the victim 15 of domestic violence in a proceeding relating to 16 criminal domestic violence; requiring that the court 17 consider certain matters and make specific findings of 18 fact to support the court’s decision to admit the 19 victim’s statement into evidence; requiring that, in a 20 criminal case, the defendant be notified of the 21 victim’s statement at least 10 days before the 22 criminal trial or proceeding; providing for the 23 content of the notice; amending s. 90.804, F.S.; 24 providing that, in a criminal case, upon proof by a 25 preponderance of the evidence that the accused, at any 26 time, assaulted an unavailable witness, or threatened 27 to inflict physical harm upon an unavailable witness 28 or any member of the witness’s immediate family, the 29 court may presume forfeiture of any objection under 30 the hearsay rule or the confrontation clause of the 31 State Constitution; creating s. 90.807, F.S.; 32 providing that a statement not specifically covered by 33 any other hearsay exception, but having equivalent 34 circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness, is not 35 excluded by the hearsay rule if the court determines 36 that the interests of justice will be best served by 37 admitting the statement into evidence; requiring a 38 certain procedure be followed before that statement 39 may be admitted; providing an effective date. 40 41 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 42 43 Section 1. Subsections (1) and (2) of section 90.803, 44 Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsection (25) is added to 45 that section, to read: 46 90.803 Hearsay exceptions; availability of declarant 47 immaterial.—The provision of s. 90.802 to the contrary 48 notwithstanding, the following are not inadmissible as evidence, 49 even though the declarant is available as a witness: 50 (1) SPONTANEOUS STATEMENT.—A spontaneous statement 51 describing or explaining an event or condition made while the 52 declarant was perceiving the event or condition, or immediately 53 thereafter, except when such statement is made under 54 circumstances that indicate its lack of trustworthiness. A call 55 to an emergency operations center, such as police, fire, or 56 emergency rescue personnel, is admissible if the purpose of the 57 call is for the immediate dispatch of personnel for emergency 58 purposes and is not merely to report a crime or event or a call 59 for assistance regarding an event occurring a substantial period 60 of time in the past. 61 (2) EXCITED UTTERANCE.—A statement or excited utterance 62 relating to a startling event or condition made while the 63 declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event 64 or condition. In a criminal case, a statement made by the victim 65 to an emergency responder, including police, fire, or emergency 66 personnel, is admissible if, while the statement is made, the 67 victim or witness is under the stress or excitement of the 68 event. 69 (25) HEARSAY EXCEPTION; STATEMENT OF A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC 70 VIOLENCE IN A CRIMINAL PROCEEDING.— 71 (a) Unless the source of information or the method or 72 circumstances by which the statement is reported indicates a 73 lack of trustworthiness, an out-of-court statement made by a 74 victim of domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, describing 75 any act of domestic violence not otherwise admissible, is 76 admissible in evidence in any criminal proceeding if: 77 1. The court finds in a hearing conducted outside the 78 presence of the jury that the time, content, and circumstances 79 of the statement provide sufficient safeguards of reliability. 80 In making its determination, the court may consider the mental 81 and physical age and maturity of the victim of domestic 82 violence, the nature and duration of the act of domestic 83 violence, the relationship of the victim to the offender, the 84 reliability of the assertion, the reliability of the victim of 85 domestic violence, and any other factor deemed appropriate; and 86 2. The victim of domestic violence: 87 a. Testifies; or 88 b. Is unavailable as a witness and there is corroborative 89 evidence of the offense. Unavailability includes a finding by 90 the court that the victim’s participation in the criminal trial 91 or proceeding would result in a substantial likelihood of severe 92 emotional, mental, or physical harm, in addition to findings 93 pursuant to s. 90.804(1). 94 (b) In a criminal action, the defendant shall be notified 95 at least 10 days before the trial that a statement that 96 qualifies as a hearsay exception pursuant to this subsection 97 will be offered as evidence at trial. The notice must include a 98 written statement of the content of the victim’s statement, the 99 time at which the statement was made, the circumstances 100 surrounding the statement which indicate its reliability, and 101 such other particulars as necessary to provide full disclosure 102 of the statement. 103 (c) The court shall make specific findings of fact, on the 104 record, as to the basis for its ruling under this subsection. 105 Section 2. Paragraph (f) is added to subsection (2) of 106 section 90.804, Florida Statutes, to read: 107 90.804 Hearsay exceptions; declarant unavailable.— 108 (2) HEARSAY EXCEPTIONS.—The following are not excluded 109 under s. 90.802, provided that the declarant is unavailable as a 110 witness: 111 (f) Forfeiture by wrongdoing.—A statement offered against a 112 party that has engaged or acquiesced in wrongdoing that was 113 intended to, and did, procure the unavailability of the 114 declarant as a witness. In a criminal case, upon proof by a 115 preponderance of the evidence that the accused, at any time, 116 assaulted an unavailable witness, or threatened to inflict 117 physical harm upon an unavailable witness or any member of the 118 witness’s immediate family, the court may presume forfeiture of 119 any objection under the hearsay rule or the confrontation clause 120 of the State Constitution. This presumption may be rebutted by 121 proof by a preponderance of the evidence that the accused did 122 not engage in, and did not acquiesce in, the wrongdoing intended 123 to cause the witness not to testify. 124 Section 3. Section 90.807, Florida Statutes, is created to 125 read: 126 90.807 Residual exception.—A statement that is not 127 specifically covered by s. 90.803 or s. 90.804 but that has 128 equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness is not 129 excluded by the hearsay rule if the court determines that the 130 statement is offered as evidence of a material fact, the 131 statement is more probative on the point for which it is offered 132 than any other evidence that the proponent can procure through 133 reasonable efforts, and the general purposes of these rules and 134 the interests of justice will best be served by admission of the 135 statement into evidence. However, a statement may not be 136 admitted under this exception unless the party seeking admission 137 makes known such intention, including the particulars of the 138 statement and the declarant’s name and address, to the adverse 139 party sufficiently in advance of the trial or hearing to provide 140 the adverse party with a fair opportunity to deny or explain the 141 statement. 142 Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.