Office of the State Attorney

Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Florida



Post Conviction and Sexually Violent Predators Unit

“Post Conviction” cases traditionally refer to cases filed under Florida Statute 3.800(a) (illegal sentencing), Florida Statute 3.850 (ineffective assistance of counsel, newly discovered evidence, constitutional violations…), Florida Statute 3.851 (capital cases), and Florida Statute 3.853 (DNA cases). Post Conviction proceedings occur after a case has been tried/plead and upheld on appeal. Usually a defendant files a motion with the court, setting out grounds upon which he or she believes relief should be granted.  Occasionally, the initial motion is filed by an attorney. Upon court order, written responses to these motions are submitted, outlining the facts of the particular case and the relevant case law.  Often, after the State’s response an evidentiary hearing is conducted—again, upon order of court. At such a hearing the State, if necessary, presents evidence to establish that the Defendant is not entitled to the requested relief.

  A circuit wide post-conviction unit was established in 2004.  The unit was developed out of an appreciation that Post Conviction cases are unique and time consuming. To help develop uniformity in responses, this unit was established to handle all Florida Statute 3.850 and Florida Statute 3.853 cases within the circuit.

 In 2006, as the complexity and volume of Sexually Violent Predators cases grew, the unit assumed responsibility for the involuntary civil commitment of sexually violent predator cases. These cases, governed by the civil rules of procedure but blanketed with due process protections, are complex and time consuming.  The Department of Children and Families (DCF) reviews individuals convicted of sexual offenses. After review, for a limited number of cases, DCF asks two psychologists to review records and meet with certain defendants to determine whether or not they meet the criteria.   After such a review, a ‘staffing’ is conducted.  When the recommendation is that an individual meets criteria and should be committed involuntarily for treatment, our office receives a report from the DCF team. A petition is then filed, asking the court to appoint counsel and set the cause for trial. Experts are hired by both sides, depositions taken, victims located. Trials, usually by jury, take between four and five days.  After successful civil commitment, a Respondent is entitled to an annual review of his status.






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