As an expert in the field of sexual abuse and assault, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects these crimes can have on survivors. It is estimated that there are 39 million survivors of childhood sexual assault in the U. S., and unfortunately, many of them never report what happened to them. But for those who do choose to come forward, it's important to understand the laws and limitations surrounding reporting sexual abuse in Florida. In Florida, the statute of limitations for reporting sexual assault is four years for first-degree sexual assault and three years for second-degree sexual assault.
This means that if the crime is not reported within 72 hours, survivors have a limited amount of time to file a civil lawsuit against institutions or individuals responsible for their abuse. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and it's crucial for survivors to discuss their legal options with an attorney. The strict nature of the statute of limitations in civil sexual assault cases was highlighted in a recent case brought before the Florida Supreme Court. In the R. R.
New Life Community Church of CMA case, two women were prohibited from bringing a civil lawsuit against a Florida church and its employees for sexual abuse they experienced as children. The court ruled that their lawsuits were filed after the statute of limitations had passed. However, other appellate courts in Florida have reached different conclusions on this issue. Some have stated that the statute of limitations does not begin until the survivor reaches the age of majority or until an appropriate representative knows about the abuse. This discrepancy highlights the need for more consistent laws and protections for survivors. Thankfully, an increasing number of states are enacting laws that exempt the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse of minors.
Legislators are beginning to recognize that there are valid reasons why survivors may wait years or even decades before coming forward to seek justice. While progress is slow, laws are evolving to better reflect this reality. If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, it's important to know that you are not alone. Our compassionate and dedicated civil trial attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you navigate the legal process while seeking justice. We are available to assist survivors throughout Florida, and we urge you to reach out for help. It's important to note that reporting sexual abuse can be a difficult and emotional process, and it's crucial to prioritize your safety and well-being.
If you choose to report your abuse, it's important to do so through secure channels, such as in-person meetings with an attorney or through encrypted email. When it comes to criminal charges for sexual abuse, Florida has recently passed a law that gives the criminal justice system an unlimited amount of time to file charges. This means that survivors can seek justice against their abusers at any point in their lives. However, for civil cases seeking compensation for physical, emotional, and financial losses, the statute of limitations is four years in Florida. If you do not file a civil lawsuit within this time frame, you will not be able to recover damages. It's crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you are considering filing a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse. In the state of Florida, there are multiple ways to report sexual abuse or assault.
Reports can be made in writing, through a toll-free telephone number, or through electronic reports. It's important to note that these reports should not include any confidential or sensitive information. Florida's laws regarding sexual assault and illegal sexual conduct are complex and can be difficult to navigate without the help of an experienced attorney. The criminal statute gives prosecutors a deadline in which they must file charges against the abuser, while the civil statute of limitations defines how long a survivor has to file a lawsuit seeking compensation. For survivors of child sexual abuse, it's important to know that there is no time limit for seeking justice in criminal or civil cases. The Donna Act, passed in Florida, allows prosecution to begin at any time for specific crimes of sexual assault against children.
This is a crucial step in ensuring that survivors have the opportunity to seek justice and hold their abusers accountable. If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual abuse or assault in Florida, you may have grounds for a civil lawsuit. Our team of experienced attorneys is here to help you understand your legal options and seek the justice and compensation you deserve. We urge you to reach out for help and support, and we are available to assist survivors throughout the state.