Learn Everything You Need to Know from an Experienced Florida Sexual Assault Lawyer
The statistics on sexual assault are alarming. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “sexual violence is common,” and more than half of women and almost a third of men will experience some form of physical sexual assault during their lifetime. As a result, far too many people find themselves in need of an experienced Florida sexual assault lawyer.
If you or someone you love has been sexually assaulted, it is important that you speak with a lawyer. Even if the assailant has been arrested, this does not necessarily mean that you and your family will achieve justice. Recovering just compensation for the financial costs, injuries and longterm trauma resulting from a sexual assault involves filing a claim in civil court, and, in many cases, it involves going after a business or property owner that could—and should—have prevented the attack.
What is Sexual Assault Defined As in Florida?
Sexual battery is a broad term that is defined in Florida Statute 794.011 and it encompasses many different forms of unlawful sexual conduct. However, there are many different types of sexually motivated crimes and, while the nature and severity may vary, it is clear that all can have significant and long-term impacts on nearly every aspect of survivors’ lives.
What constitutes sexual assault and/or sexually motivated crime? Some examples include:
- Rape and attempted rape
- Nonconsensual physical contact
- Nonconsensual verbal and written communication (including texts and direct messages)
- Coerced sexual activity
- Sexual acts perpetrated against victims who are unable to refuse consent
- Stalking, sexual intimidation and indecent exposure (both in person and online)
Unfortunately, all of these forms of sexual assault are common. They occur at bars and nightclubs, in homes and dorm rooms, on cruise ships, in public places, and just about everywhere else. Regardless of what happened and where it occurred, if you or someone you love has been victimized, you should speak with a Florida sexual assault lawyer as soon as possible.
Criminal Penalties for Sexual Assault in Florida
In Florida, the criminal penalties for sexual assault depend on the specific charge (or charges) involved. Fortunately, the penalties for most forms of sexual assault are relatively severe. In many cases, perpetrators can face 15 to 45 years behind bars—reflecting the severity of the criminal acts they have committed. Criminal sexual assault convictions can result in fines, rehabilitation, parole and other penalties as well, and individuals who get convicted of sexual assault crimes must also register as sex offenders upon their release.
Importantly, however, criminal charges for sexual assault do not result in compensation awards for victims and their families. To recover just compensation, victims and their families must pursue claims in civil court. If the perpetrator is facing criminal charges, you should not wait to hire a lawyer. There are several reasons why it is important to hire a Florida sexual assault lawyer promptly, and the perpetrator does not need to get convicted in order for you to be able to file a claim.
Defenses to Sexual Assault Allegations
There is no justification for sexual assault—not under any circumstances. Even so, when facing sexual assault charges, perpetrators and their defense lawyers will fight to avoid sentencing by all means available. When you file a claim against a bar, nightclub, cruise line or other business that is liable for what happened, the company and its defense lawyers will dispute your allegations by all means available as well. For example, some common defenses to sexual assault allegations include:
- Alleging that the sexual conduct was consensual
- Arguing mistaken identity
- False accusations of sexual assault
- Presenting DNA evidence that shows the actual perpetrator was someone else
- Violation of the perpetrator’s constitutional rights following the sexual assault
While these defenses work in some cases, in many cases they do not. When you hire a Florida sexual assault lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will conduct an investigation and gather the evidence needed to disprove any defenses the perpetrator or liable business tries to put forward. At Searcy Denney, we have an extensive track record of successfully representing victims and their families, and we are passionate about ensuring that victims of sexual assault achieve the justice they deserve.
Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault in Florida
The statute of limitations for sexual assault in Florida depends on the circumstances involved in a particular case. Generally speaking, however, sexual assault victims have at least four years from the date of the attack to file a lawsuit. For victims who are under the age of 18 when they were sexually assaulted, the statute of limitations is seven years from their eighteenth birthday, which means that they must file their claims before they turn 25.
This is different from the rule for criminal prosecution. The statute of limitations for criminal prosecution is eight years for many offenses, but Florida law provides no statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of sexual assault in some cases.
While you may have four years (or longer) to file a claim, it is important that you not wait any longer than necessary. Unnecessary delays can make it more difficult to assert your legal rights successfully, so we strongly recommend that you speak with a Florida sexual assault lawyer right away.
Injuries and Losses Suffered By Victims of Sexual Assault
Sexual assaults can leave victims suffering from both physical and psychological injuries. These injuries can cause victims of sexual assault to suffer significant financial and non-financial losses during their lifetimes.
Physical injuries from sexual assaults can include internal and external abrasions, lacerations, contusions and other forms of trauma. Victims can also suffer from unwanted pregnancies, sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), post-traumatic stress and severe emotional distress. Many sexual assault victims will experience anxiety, depression and other psychological effects as well.
All of these are losses for which sexual assault victims and their families can recover just compensation under Florida law.
In sexual assault cases, victims and their families can seek just compensation for the present and future costs of the assault. This includes just compensation for financial and non-financial costs such as:
- Medical costs
- Therapy costs
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of companionship, consortium and enjoyment of life
When sexual assaults lead to financial and non-financial loss, victims can recover just compensation for both forms of harm. For example, if a sexual assault victim suffers from depression in the aftermath of the attack, the victim is entitled to financial compensation for the costs of therapy and the other effects of living with depression day-to-day. As a result, financial recoveries in sexual assault cases will often be substantial, and, as a victim (or as the parent or other family member of a victim), you owe it to yourself to find out how much you deserve to recover.
How a Florida Sexual Assault Lawyer Can Help You
If you are coping with the effects of a sexual assault, there are many ways a Florida sexual assault lawyer can help you. For example, when you hire a lawyer at Searcy Denney, your lawyer will:
- Guide you through the recovery process
- Provide a thorough explanation of your legal rights and options
- Investigate the sexual assault and collect the evidence needed to prove liability
- File all available claims on your (or your family’s) behalf
- Negotiate for an out-of-court settlement if desired, or take your case to court
FAQs: Understanding Sexual Assault Cases in Florida
What is the minimum sentence for sexual assault in Florida?
The minimum sentence for sexual assault in Florida depends on the specific charge that gets filed. For sexual battery (Florida’s term for rape) committed against a victim age 18 or older, the mandatory minimum sentence is just shy of three years.
What is the charge for sexual assault in Florida?
In Florida, the main charge for sexual assault, or rape, is called “sexual battery.” Sexual battery involves any form of penetration and carries penalties ranging from years behind bars to lifetime imprisonment depending on the circumstances involved.
What are the types of sexual assault cases?
Along with rape (sexual battery) charges, Florida law recognizes several other forms of sexual assault as well. These include sexual harassment, stalking, bullying, cyberstalking and cyberbullying, and indecent exposure, among others.
What is the statute of limitations on sexual assault in Florida?
The statute of limitations for filing a sexual assault claim in Florida is four years in most cases. But, minors have longer to file. Regardless of how long you have to file your claim, however, you should discuss your situation with an experienced Florida sexual assault lawyer as soon as possible.
Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with a Florida Sexual Assault Lawyer
If you need to know more about filing a sexual assault claim in Florida, we strongly encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation. At Searcy Denney, we are committed to fighting for justice on behalf of sexual assault victims and their families. To speak with an experienced Florida sexual assault lawyer as soon as possible, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 800-780-8607 or tell us how we can reach you online now.