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A statute of limitations (or SOL), simply, is the maximum amount of time one has to bring a lawsuit from the time of the injury or other ground for a lawsuit.

SOLs vary from state to state and from claim to claim. For example, a SOL for a lawsuit about a contract may be different from a lawsuit about a personal injury and both may be of varying durations between different states. The statute of limitations may also be set to begin running at different times. Some SOLs begin running at the time of the injury and others begin running when the injury is discovered.

Child Sex Abuse Statutes of Limitation and Related Laws

Current Civil SOL

In Florida, there is no civil SOL for felony child sex abuse claims. For misdemeanors, the SOL is capped at age 25 (age of majority, 18, plus 7 years).


SOL vs. perp, employer: NONE, when victim is under 16 years of age.
SOL vs. employer: NONE, when victim is under 16 years of age.
SOL vs. perp. (when victim is 16 years of age or older): +7 years from majority = Age 25
SOL vs. employer (when victim is 16 years of age or older): +7 years from majority = Age 25
Majority Tolling: 18
Discovery Tolling: Liberal


Florida State Law Provides:

(7) For intentional torts based on abuse.--An action founded on alleged abuse, as defined in s. 39.01, s. 415.102, or s. 984.03, or incest, as defined in s. 826.04, may be commenced at any time within 7 years after the age of majority, or within 4 years after the injured person leaves the dependency of the abuser, or within 4 years from the time of discovery by the injured party of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the abuse, whichever occurs later.

(9) Sexual battery offenses on victims under age 16.--An action related to an act constituting a violation of s. 794.011 involving a victim who was under the age of 16 at the time of the act may be commenced at any time. This subsection applies to any such action other than one which would have been time barred on or before July 1, 2010.
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 95.11

Current Criminal SOL

In Florida, the SOL for first degree criminal child sex abuse claims is capped at age 22 (age of majority, 18, plus 4 years). For second degree violations, the SOL is capped at age 26 and for all other felonies, the SOL is capped at age 21.


SOL vs. perp./employer: NONE, for all violations of child sex abuse where victim is under age 16, for all first degree violations when victim is under age majority (Age 18), and for all felonies carrying a life sentence.
SOL vs. perp. (for second degree violations when victim is between 16-18 and committed on or after July 1, 2015): + 8 years from majority.
SOL vs. employer (for second degree violations when victim is between 16-18 and committed on or after July 1, 2015): + 8 years from majority.
SOL vs. perp. (for all first degree felonies when victim is 16 years or older): + 4 years from majority = Age 22
SOL vs. employer (for all first degree felonies when victim is 16 years or older): + 4 years from majority = Age 22
SOL vs. perp. (for all other felonies when victim is 16 years or older): +3 years from majority = Age 21
SOL vs. employer (for all other felonies when victim is 16 years or older): +3 years from majority = Age 21


Florida State Law Provides:

(1) A prosecution for a capital felony, a life felony, or a felony that resulted in a death may be commenced at any time. If the death penalty is held to be unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, all crimes designated as capital felonies shall be considered life felonies for the purposes of this section, and prosecution for such crimes may be commenced at any time.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions for other offenses are subject to the following periods of limitation:

(a) A prosecution for a felony of the first degree must be commenced within 4 years after it is committed.
(b) A prosecution for any other felony must be commenced within 3 years after it is committed.
(c) A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the first degree must be commenced within 2 years after it is committed.
(d) A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the second degree or a noncriminal violation must be commenced within 1 year after it is committed.

(13)(a) If the victim of a violation of s. 794.011, former s. 794.05, Florida Statutes 1995, s. 800.04, s. 826.04, or s. 847.0135(5) is under the age of 18, the applicable period of limitation, if any, does not begin to run until the victim has reached the age of 18 or the violation is reported to a law enforcement agency or other governmental agency, whichever occurs earlier. Such law enforcement agency or other governmental agency shall promptly report such allegation to the state attorney for the judicial circuit in which the alleged violation occurred. If the offense is a first or second degree felony violation of s. 794.011, and the offense is reported within 72 hours after its commission, the prosecution for such offense may be commenced at any time. This paragraph applies to any such offense except an offense the prosecution of which would have been barred by subsection (2) on or before December 31, 1984.

Fla. Stat. § 775.15 (1)

(2)(a) A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age commits a capital felony, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082 and 921.141.
(b) A person less than 18 years of age who commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age commits a life felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, s. 775.084, or s. 794.0115.

(3) A person who commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older, without that person’s consent, and in the process thereof uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon or uses actual physical force likely to cause serious personal injury commits a life felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, s. 775.084, or s. 794.0115.

(4)(a) A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older but younger than 18 years of age without that person’s consent, under any of the circumstances listed in paragraph (e), commits a felony of the first degree, punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, s. 775.084, or s. 794.0115.
(b) A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon a person 18 years of age or older without that person’s consent, under any of the circumstances listed in paragraph (e), commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, s. 775.084, or s. 794.0115.
(c) A person younger than 18 years of age who commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older without that person’s consent, under any of the circumstances listed in paragraph (e), commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, s. 775.084, or s. 794.0115.
(d) A person commits a felony of the first degree, punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, s. 775.084, or s. 794.0115 if the person commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older without that person’s consent, under any of the circumstances listed in paragraph (e), and such person was previously convicted of a violation of:

1. Section 787.01(2) or s. 787.02(2) when the violation involved a victim who was a minor and, in the course of committing that violation, the defendant committed against the minor a sexual battery under this chapter or a lewd act under s. 800.04 or s. 847.0135(5);

Florida Statute 794.011 Sexual battery

Age of Majority: 18. See, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 743.07.
Age of Consent: 18. See, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 794.011.

Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16. See, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.0405.
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18 or with proof of pregnancy. See, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.0405.


Medical Neglect Statute

CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE

A parent cannot be found guilty of child neglect or abuse solely for providing faith based treatment in accordance with a recognized religion and duly accredited practitioner. However, reporting is still required and the department may investigate such a case with the right to order medical services by a physician if the child’s health demands.

Florida Law Provides:
A parent or legal custodian who, by reason of the legitimate practice of religious beliefs, does not provide specified medical treatment for a child, may not be considered abusive or neglectful for that reason alone, but such an exception does not:

  1. Eliminate the requirement that such a case be reported to the department;
  2. Prevent the department from investigating such a case; or
  3. Preclude a court from ordering, when the health of the child requires it, the provision of medical services by a physician, as defined in this section, or treatment by a duly accredited practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing in accordance with the tenets and practices of a well-recognized church or religious denomination.
    Florida Statutes §39.01(32)(a)(f)

A parent or guardian legitimately practicing religious beliefs in accordance with a recognized church or religious organization who thereby does not provide specific medical treatment for a child shall not, for that reason alone, be considered a negligent parent or guardian; however such an exception does not preclude a court from ordering the following services to be provided, when the health of the child so requires:
(a) Medical services from a licensed physician, dentist, optometrist, podiatric physician, or other qualified health care provider; or
(b) Treatment by a duly accredited practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing in accordance with the tenets and practices of a well-recognized church or religious denomination.
Florida Statutes §984.03(37)

A court shall not be precluded from ordering services or treatment to be provided to the child by a duly accredited practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing in accordance with the tenets and practices of a church or religious organization, when required by the child’s health and when requested by the child.
Florida Statutes §984.19(8) on shelter care and §39.407(9) on out-of-home placement

Except as provided in this section, nothing in this section shall be deemed to preclude a court from ordering services or treatment to be provided to a child by a duly accredited practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing in accordance with the tenets and practices of a church or religious organization, when requested by the child.
Florida Statutes §985.224(8) on delinquent children

CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE

Due to confusing language in the civil code exemption, there also exists a religious exemption for criminal liability.

Florida Law Provides:
Florida has a religious exemption to child abuse in the civil code at Florida Statutes 984.03(37) and 39.01(30)(f). The Florida Supreme Court overturned a conviction of Christian Scientists for felony child abuse and third-degree murder, ruling that the civil code exemption caused confusion in violation of the fair notice rights of parents. The Court ruled, “The statutes have created a trap that the legislature should address.” The legislature, however, has never done so.

Note: Sec. 19-3-103 is a civil statute with a religious exemption.


Religous Liberty Statute

Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk

Current Law: FLA. STAT. § 761.01-05 (1998)

Enacted: June 17, 1998

§ 761.01. SHORT TITLE This act may be cited as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998.”

HISTORY

S. 1, ch. 98-412.

§ 761.02. DEFINITIONS As used in this act:

(1) “Government” or “state” includes any branch, department, agency, instrumentality, or official or other person acting under color of law of the state, a county, special district, municipality, or any other subdivision of the state.

(2) “Demonstrates” means to meet the burden of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.

(3) “Exercise of religion” means an act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the religious exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

§ 761.03. FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION PROTECTED

(1) The government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except that government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (a) Is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (b) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. (2) A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief.

HISTORY

S. 3, ch. 98-412.

§ 761.04. ATTORNEY’S FEES AND COSTS The prevailing plaintiff in any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of this act is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to be paid by the government.

HISTORY

S. 4, ch. 98-412.

§ 761.05. APPLICABILITY; CONSTRUCTION

(1) This act applies to all state law, and the implementation of that law, whether statutory or otherwise, and whether adopted before or after the enactment of this act.

(2) State law adopted after the date of the enactment of this act is subject to this act unless such law explicitly excludes such application by reference to this act.

(3) Nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize the government to burden any religious belief.

(4) Nothing in this act shall be construed to circumvent the provisions of chapter 893.

(5) Nothing in this act shall be construed to affect, interpret, or in any way address that portion of s. 3, Art. I of the State Constitution prohibiting laws respecting the establishment of religion.

(6) Nothing in this act shall create any rights by an employee against an employer if the employer is not a governmental agency.

(7) Nothing in this act shall be construed to affect, interpret, or in any way address that portion of s. 3, Art. I of the State Constitution and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States respecting the establishment of religion. This act shall not be construed to permit any practice prohibited by those provisions.

HISTORY

S. 5, ch. 98-412.


The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.