TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 233, also known as Curtis’ Law, to better support families who have endured the ultimate tragedy of losing their loved ones due to crime. HB 233 expands the rights of families whose minor children have been victims of crime by requiring law enforcement agencies to provide investigative and contact information to the next of kin of deceased minors who were the victim of a homicide.
This bill is named for Curtis Williamson, who was murdered in 1997 in San Diego. Authorities, however, considered his death an accident until 2017. Curtis’ mother, Patricia Ward, had difficulty obtaining information related to the investigation of her son’s case and spent nearly two decades collecting evidence which eventually led to the San Diego Police Department and County Medical Examiner’s Office changing the manner of Curtis’ death to a homicide. Ward now lives in Florida and advocates for laws similar to HB 233.
“When criminals inflict the ultimate loss on a family — the loss of a beloved child — government must aggressively investigate and hold those criminals accountable, and that family should never be left in the dark. Those loved ones have a right to be informed about the status of those investigations,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I am proud to sign Curtis’ Law and am grateful for the hard work of Curtis’ family that makes these reforms a reality.”
HB 233 requires that during the investigation of a death of a minor, the law enforcement agency that oversees the investigation must provide the minor’s next of kin with the contact information for the primary investigator and contact information for any other law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation. Law enforcement must also provide information on the status of the investigation, the case number, and a list of the minor victim’s effects and instructions on how to collect them.