Summary: H.R.4688 — 101st Congress (1989-1990)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.4688. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (05/01/1990)

Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 - Title I: Child Abuse Offense - Requires the United States Sentencing Commission to promulgate guidelines or amend existing guidelines to provide that a defendant convicted of a sexual offense or crime of violence in which the victim was under age 14 shall receive a sentence at an offense level two levels higher than that which obtains when no victim was under age 14.

Title II: Improving Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse Cases - Authorizes the Administrator of the Office for Victims of Crime to make grants to develop and implement multidisciplinary child abuse investigation and prosecution programs. Enumerates program criteria, including requirements identifying an appropriate site for counseling child victims of sexual and serious physical abuse and neglect, referring cases to the appropriate law enforcement agency within 24 hours, minimizing the number of interviews the child victim must attend, and assigning volunteers or staff advocates to each child's family.

Directs the Administrator to make grants to national organizations to provide technical assistance and training to attorneys and others instrumental to the criminal prosecution of child abuse cases in State or Federal courts for the purpose of improving the quality of investigation and criminal prosecution.

Authorizes appropriations for FY 1990 through 1993.

Title III: Court Appointed Special Advocate Program - Authorizes the Administrator to make grants to expand the court-appointed special advocate program. Requires the Administrator to establish criteria to be used in evaluating grant applications, which shall include a program providing screening, training, and supervision of court-appointed special advocates. Authorizes appropriations for FY 1990 through 1993.

Title IV: Child Abuse Training Programs for Judicial Personnel and Practitioners - Authorizes the Administrator to provide technical assistance and training to judicial personnel and attorneys to improve the judicial system's handling of child abuse and neglect cases.

Directs the Administrator to make grants to national organizations to develop model technical programs to improve the judicial system's handling of such cases.

Authorizes the Administrator to make grants to or for juvenile and family courts and State judicial systems for programs that implement model child abuse and neglect programs. Directs that the grant criteria give priority to programs which improve procedures for preventing placement of children in foster care, make reasonable efforts to reunite the family, and coordinate information and services.

Authorizes appropriations. Requires that at least 80 percent of such funds be used for juvenile and family court and State judicial system programs.

Title V: National Commission to Improve Domestic Relations Courts - Establishes the National Commission to Improve Domestic Relations Courts to develop suggestions to improve domestic relations courts, with special attention to the handling of child abuse and neglect cases, to suggest whether new model State legislation is needed, and to identify barriers to the nationwide use of specialized, comprehensive family court systems. Specifies membership, qualifications, terms of office, pay, powers, and reporting requirements of such Commission. Authorizes appropriations.

Title VI: Federal Victims' Services, Protections, and Rights - Requires the Attorney General to: (1) establish an evaluation system to rate law enforcement officers on their compliance with laws protecting victims of crime; and (2) create a set of standards to govern services to victims and witnesses in Federal cases and serve as a model to States and localities.

Requires the Office for Victims of Crime to report at least annually to the public, the Congress, and the President on the protection of victims generally and, specifically, on compliance with such standards.

Authorizes the court to appoint a guardian ad litem at the earliest possible stage of all proceedings where a child was a victim of a crime involving abuse or exploitation to protect the best interests of the child. Sets forth guidelines with respect to criteria in choosing, and the duties of, such guardian.

Grants a child testifying at a criminal proceeding the right to be accompanied by an adult to provide emotional support to the child, subject to certain restrictions.

Authorizes the court to order that a child's testimony be taken by closed-circuit TV if it finds that: (1) the child would be so intimidated, or otherwise inhibited, by the physical presence of the defendant that the child would be rendered incompetent or unable to testify; (2) there is a substantial likelihood that the child will suffer serious trauma from testifying in the same room as the defendant; and (3) conduct on the part of the defendant or defense counsel during the hearing or trial causes the child to be unable to continue the child's testimony.

Sets forth provisions governing: (1) the court's questioning of a child; (2) a child's live testimony by two-way closed circuit TV; (3) videotaped depositions of child witnesses; (4) a videotape record of any examination of the child; (5) age appropriate questions; (6) testimonial aids; (7) competency examinations; (8) privacy and address protection of a child victim or witness; (9) closing the courtroom; (10) victim impact statements; and (11) speedy trial motions.

Amends the Federal Rules of Evidence to make an exception to the hearsay rule to include within the definition of "unavailability" certain situations in which the declarant is a child.

Prohibits any statute of limitations that would prevent the prosecution of abuse of a child under age 18 from taking effect before the child reaches age 20.