Competency/ Insanity


Title XLVII, Chapter 916, Part III addresses competency of those are intellectually disabled or autistic specifically.

A defendant who is suspected to have an intellectual disability or autism is incompetent to proceed if the defendant does not have sufficient present ability to consult with the defendant’s lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding or if the defendant has no rational, as well as factual, understanding of the proceedings against the defendant. Fla. Stat. § 916.3012.  

A defendant with I/DD who is found incompetent can be involuntarily committed for competency restoration. Fla. Stat. § 916.302.

Outlines procedure for juvenile incompetence determination. Fla. Stat. § 985.19.



Special Rules

Protects child and sexual abuse victims under age 16 or with I/DD – limits the number of interviews conducted. Fla. Stat. § 914.16.

Upon motion, the court may order anything necessary to protect those with I/DD  that are a victim or witness in any judicial proceeding or other official proceeding from severe emotional or mental harm due to the presence of the defendant if the victim or witness is required to testify in open court – the court may limit how many times the witness is questioned, may order that the questions be submitted prior to questioning, or order that a witness be accompanied by his or her registered service dog, for example. Fla. Stat. § 92.55.

The court must appoint an advocate to represent a person who has an intellectual disability in any criminal proceeding if the person is a victim of or witness to abuse or neglect, a victim of a sexual offense, or a witness to a sexual offense committed against a minor or person who has an intellectual disability. The court may appoint an advocate in any other criminal proceeding in which such person is involved as a victim or a witness. The advocate explains things to the witness/ victim, assists the witness/ victim and their family with coping, and advises the judge as needed. Fla. Stat. § 914.17.

If a victim with I/DD is testifying about a sex offense, the courtroom is cleared other than the parties, attorneys, officers of the court, journalists, and immediate family of the parties. Fla. Stat. § 918.16.

Hearsay: Unless the statement lacks trustworthiness, an out of court statement by a disabled adult describing certain offenses (i.e. neglect, exploitation, assault, etc.) if the court has a hearing to determine reliability and the witness is not available. Fla. Stat. § 90.803(24).


Offenders may be eligible for a reduced sentence if the capacity of the defendant to appreciate the criminal nature of the conduct or to conform that conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired or the defendant requires specialized treatment for a mental disorder that is unrelated to substance abuse or addiction or for a physical disability, and the defendant is open to treatment (among other reasons justifying a reduced sentence). Fla. Stat. § 921.0026.

Death Penalty

The Supreme Court of the United States recently found Florida's death penalty laws unconstitutional. The state is in the process of passing new laws in this area. Check back later for an update.  


Parole: The Florida Commission on Offender Review can require as a condition of parole that someone with I/DD be required to apply for disability services. Fla. Stat. § 947.185.

The Department of Corrections must notify the Agency for Persons with Disabilities about upcoming release of an inmate with I/DD – the Agency must have time to notify the inmate of services in the community at least 7 days before his release. Fla. Stat. § 944.602.