What Is the Statute of Limitations on Sexual Assault?
If you’re considering bringing a lawsuit of some kind, it’s necessary to be aware of the statute of limitations in your state. The statute of limitations is the time period during which a plaintiff may file a case with the court. If the case is filed after the statute of limitations runs out then the case may not be brought against the defendant.
Every type of claim has a statute of limitations, including sexual assault cases, so you may be wondering ‘what is the statute of limitations on sexual assault?’ An experienced sexual assault attorney can help you determine whether your case has exceeded this time period or if you’re still able to bring forward a claim.
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Statute of limitations for sexual assault in Florida
Every state has its own time period during which a person is eligible to file a personal injury claim. The length of the time period and what it takes into consideration for sexual assault cases varies from state to state. For example, some states have different limitation periods if the victim was a minor at the time of the incident. These cases involving minor children typically don’t begin until after the victim reaches a legal age.
Other states consider the discovery of the claim itself, meaning the time period does not begin until the victim has come to the realization that what they experienced may be considered sexual assault, and that assault resulted in an injury. The sexual assault attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff can guide you through the specifics pertaining to the statute of limitations in the state of Florida.
Florida’s sexual assault law
There are sadly many different situations in which sexual assault can occur, with members of every age group susceptible of becoming victims. Unfortunately, some of the more common scenarios in which sexual abuse may occur include the following:
- Children can be sexually abused by other children or employees of the school district, camp counselors or church members
- Sexual abuse can arise in hospital settings, when hospital staff abuse patients who are under medication or in a vulnerable condition
- Psychoanalysts and physicians can take advantage of the vulnerability of a patient
- Elderly people who are confined to nursing homes can be subjected to elder sexual abuse
- Sexual abuse can occur in business settings when an employee in a position of authority makes improper sexual advances to another employee
- Sexual abuse can occur in private homes as well
It’s important to be aware of the sexual assault laws in Florida so you can recognize it and contact the proper authorities as soon as possible.
What is sexual assault under Florida law?
In Florida, sexual battery is defined here. Unfortunately for many victims, the perpetrator is often someone with whom they have an established relationship or has easy access to children.
In Florida’s 2022 criminal statutes, Chapter 794 outlines the laws relating to sexual battery. This statute breaks down sexual battery and assault into the following three degrees, each with their own specific punishments and penalties:
Section 794.011(4) of Florida’s sexual battery statute states that a person commits sexual assault in the first degree if they are 18 years or older and engages in sexual penetration with a minor who is at least the age of 12 and is unable to knowingly consent to the sexual act or the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated. Florida also considers sexual assault in the first degree in situations where the perpetrator relies on a weapon to help assist in the act.
Section 794.011(5) of Florida’s sexual battery statute states that a person commits sexual assault in the second degree if they are at least 18 years old and participates in sexual penetration with a minor child at least the age of 12 without any physical force or weapon.
Section 794.011(8)(1) of Florida’s sexual battery statute states that a person commits sexual assault in the third degree if they are in a position of familial or custodial authority to a person less than 18 years of age and solicits that minor victim to engage in any act with a third party which would constitute sexual battery.
Florida’s 43 Days Initiative Act
Under this act, the Florida statute of limitations pertaining to sexual assault criminal cases in the first or second degree was extended for victims 16 years of age or older to eight years from the date of the incident. This means that these younger victims have a longer time period to file a claim against their attacker, which is essential given the emotional trauma and insecurity that comes with being the victim of such an incident.
It’s important to understand that there is a difference between criminal charges and civil suit charges when it comes to sexual battery charges. The sexual assault attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff can help explain these differences to you to ensure you understand the process.
Exceptions to the statute of limitations
Given the severity of sexual assault cases, Florida statutes have allowed for some exceptions to the statute of limitations. Some of the sexual assault cases specified in Chapter 794.011 that may be commenced at any time include:
- Section 704.011(2)(a) and (b): the sexual battery of a child less than 12 years old;
- Section 794.011(3): the sexual battery with the use of force or use of threat of a deadly weapon; and
- Section 794.011(8)(c): the sexual battery of a minor under the age of 12 by a person in familial or custodial authority
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a sexual assault, schedule a free legal consultation with the experienced attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff in Miami. We can help fight and protect your rights.