Sexual abuse is an especially heinous crime. The victims can suffer intense physical and mental anguish at the hands of their abusers and be affected by their experiences for the rest of their lives. Although men can be the victims of sexual assault, women are disproportionately affected by this issue in Florida and the US as a whole. Children are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse because of their inability to defend themselves.
Sexual abuse survivors often experience a great deal of pain, shame, and trauma, both physical and emotional. Coming forward to voice your sexual assault claim takes courage.
The Law Place is here to help. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse in Florida, our team of lawyers can give you the legal support to help get the justice you deserve. Our team has a combined experience of 75 years and work together on every case, ensuring a thorough approach to the individual needs of your case.
Our phone lines are open 24/7. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation protected by attorney-client privilege, meaning no one hears about this but us. Contact us when you are able, and we can get started on your case immediately. Call us on (941) 444-4444.
What Is Sexual Abuse in Florida?
Sexual abuse or assault is legally defined under Florida Statute 794.011 as the term sexual battery. Rape and other forms of sexual assault are called sexual battery in Florida courts. This is clearly defined as the unwanted sexual behavior of one party against another, in which consent has not been given or has been rescinded. The same statute defines sexual battery as the oral, vaginal, or anal penetration with a sexual organ or foreign object without consent.
In Florida, consent means the intelligent, knowing, and voluntary agreement to a sexual act. Sex without consent is sexual battery. Consent is not legally interpreted as the failure by the victim to offer physical resistance against the assault. Not putting up a fight is not consent. There is no middle ground to be interpreted, no matter how many may argue otherwise.
The age of consent in Florida is 18 years old. According to Florida Statute 794.05, a person aged 24 years or older who engages in sexual activity with a minor aged 16 or 17 has committed a second-degree felony of sexual battery. Consent cannot be given by a person aged 17 or younger to a person aged 24 or older. It is a capital crime for a person aged 18 or older to engage in sexual activity with a child aged 12 and younger and can result in lifetime imprisonment. Child sexual abuse is especially horrid, and the punishments for such acts fit the crime.
Children and minors are not the only class of people who cannot legally consent to a sexual act. This can include people who are:
- Mentally ill.
- Physically handicapped.
- Drugged or heavily intoxicated.
- Physically helpless (asleep, unconscious, or physically unable to verbally consent).
- Intellectually disabled.
People who endure these conditions are unable to give legal consent and are especially vulnerable to sexual violence due to their incapacity for physical or mental resistance.
Women, children, and intellectually or physically handicapped people are the most at risk for sexual assault, although men can experience unwanted sexual abuse as well.
What Are the Criminal Consequences for Sexual Abuse?
The legal ramifications for committing sexual violence are severe, more so for sexual acts involving a child. Social and societal pressures on prosecutors and the government have been used as justification for increasing the punishment for sex crimes across the nation.
Sexual assault is a felony in Florida, even if the act was only attempted but not committed. For example, this means attempted rape may carry the same consequences as rape itself. Sexual battery in any situation may result in a prison sentence and heavy fines for the assailant.
Sexual assault in the second degree can carry a prison term of up to 15 years and fines up to $10,000. Capital crimes or sexual assault resulting in death can result in life imprisonment and fines up to $15,000.
Cases in which children and minors are the victims of sexual assault result in much harsher punishments. A minor who commits sexual battery on a child under the age of 12 can be sentenced to up to 25 years imprisonment. If the individual is over 18, the state of Florida has the right to enact the death penalty as punishment. If the minor is over the age of 12, a sentence of up to 15 years can be given to the perpetrator.
People who are convicted of sexual battery must also register as a sex offender. These lists are public data, and often individuals who are released from prison must inform their neighbors, employers, and other significant parties of their sex offender status. This can ruin lives.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Battery?
According to Florida Statute 775.15, the time limitations on bringing sexual abuse charges vary depending on the nature of the crime. Classifications of these crimes are complex and entirely depend on the ages of the victim and perpetrator. Unless special conditions are met by the prosecution, the statute of limitations on sex violence generally use the following statute of limitations:
- Capital or life felonies have no time limitation for prosecution.
- First degree felonies have four years to begin prosecution.
- Second and third-degree felonies have three years to begin prosecution.
These time frames begin from the date the sexual assault occurred. There is no statute of limitations on crimes in which sexual battery was committed on an individual under the age of 16. Child sexual abuse can be prosecuted decades after the event. There is no limit on prosecuting sex crimes in the first degree against a person aged 18 or younger, however second- degree and third-degree crimes must begin within three years or when the victim turns 18, whichever comes first. If the crime resulted in death, there is no statute of limitations. Rape or sexual assault resulting in death can be prosecuted no matter how much time has passed.
What Damages Can You Seek in a Sexual Abuse Case?
If you are the victim of a sex crime, the criminal court is not your only option for justice. You may be entitled to seek damages in civil court against your assailant. These can include both economic (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) and non-economic (pain and suffering) damages. Contact The Law Place to find out your options and to speak with a qualified sexual abuse lawyer.
How Prevalent Is Sexual Abuse in Florida?
Statistics can never reveal the true pervasiveness of sexual violence in Florida, but they do offer a glimpse into its impacts and how many victims there may be.
According to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV), 1.2 million or 17% of women in Florida have been the victims of rape. 3.1 million or 41.8% of women are victims of sexual assault other than rape. 79.6% of women who have experienced one or more completed rape experienced their first assault before the age of 25 and 42.2% were under the age of 18.
You are not alone. Get the help you deserve.
Contact Our Sexual Abuse Attorneys Today
Are you the victim of sexual violence? Are you wary of the way police and prosecutors may be handling your case? You have other options to find justice. Get the help you need.
Contact The Law Place today and speak with our qualified sexual abuse attorneys. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation in which you will find out your legal options and the strength of your potential case. File for damages in civil court and get the compensation you deserve.
Money can never heal the wounds of sexual abuse, but it may help you find some stability in your trying time.
Let us help you take back control of your life. Call The Law Place at (941) 444-4444.