Are There Time Limitations on Suing for Sexual Abuse?

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Are There Time Limitations on Suing for Sexual Abuse? 

Yes. Florida has Statutes of Limitations for both civil and criminal cases. A statute of limitations provides how long you have in order to file a suit, once the limitations time period is over, you may be barred from ever seeking justice through the courts. Below I will provide a brief overview of the time limits placed upon suing your sexual abuser and/or having them prosecuted in criminal court. 

Statute of Limitations for Claim of Sexual Abuse. 

  • 7 years after age of 18
  • 4 years after leaving the dependency of the abuser
  • 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.

That last one is obviously the most confusing. The Florida legislature thankfully took into account the unique nature of sexual abuse and the often seen scenario of repressed memories. What the law allows is what is commonly called the "delayed discover rule". The 4 years statute of limitations does not begin until the victim either knows or reasonably should know of the wrongful act giving rise to the claim. So an adult who finds out many years later that he/she was abused as a child, can still sue as long as they do it within 4 years of making the discovery of the abuse. As is often the case, the issue of when someone knew or should of known, is going to be argued over. You should find an attorney who can begin putting together the timeline and building any arguments necessary to make sure your claim survives. Just know that you may still have a lawsuit even though the abuse happened years ago. 

If you want to report your case to the police and have the person prosecuted, there are also statutes of limitations.

Statute of Limitations for a Criminal Case 

  • No statute of limitations for aggravated rape cases. These cases involve serious physical injury, weapons or sometimes more than one person.
  • No statute of limitations for for sexual battery on minor.
  • 8 years for a prosecution for a first or second degree felony violation of sexual battery, if the victim is 16 years of age or older at the time of the offense.
  • There is a DNA exception that allows for prosecution of a rapist within 1 year of discovery of the DNA match. 

This post is only a brief summary and these laws can and do change, so help yourself by contacting an attorney who can do the proper research on any issues. 

If You Have Questions Regarding Your Rights as a Survivor of Rape or Sexual Abuse

Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.