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Florida Extends Statute of Limitations for Rape Cases from Four Years to Eight Years

Sexual assault can be a traumatic experience for a survivor. It is equally traumatic when the offender of the assault is known to the victim, which generally occurs in about 80 percent of all sexual assaults and thus may retraumatize the victim every time she or he comes into contact with her/his assailant. The Bill Cosby rape case has shed significant light on sexual violence and rape culture in the United States, with the coming forward of over 36 survivors who state they were drugged and assaulted by Cosby. In the case of Cosby, however, only one case has seemed to have made it within the statute of limitations: the civil suit by a woman accusing Cosby of sexual battery when she was only 15 years old at the Playboy mansion in 1978.

What is a “Statute of Limitations”?

“Statute of limitations” is a legal theory that applies a deadline by which someone or the state may file a legal claim against another person for wrongdoing done in the past. The statutes of limitation was the result of a policy put in place to protect the defendant by creating an artificial time barrier whereby a legal action could no longer be pursued against that person. The purpose of putting forth statutes of limitations was to keep obsolete and archaic legal claims from backlogging the system, especially when the witnesses, evidence, testimony, and possibly the injury are no longer available and cannot be substantiated and argued in court. Because time has a way of altering physical evidence as well as memory, cases that are decades old are difficult to put forward because no longer is the information that may be used to decide the case relevant or even available.

Florida’s 43 Days Initiative Act

Florida has made a big push, as a result of the Cosby case, and more locally, the 43 Days Initiative Act, to provide more time for victims to file claims against defendants. The 43 Days Initiative Act is named for Danielle Sullivan who reported a rape 43 days too late and was unable to file a claim against her alleged assailant. Before the passing of this new bill into law, Florida only allowed rape victims to have four years to report rapes. This, however, does not apply to minors who are able to file claims at any time.

Inside Florida’s New Statute of Limitations Law

The Senate Bill 133, which has since been signed into law on June 11, 2015 and took effect on July 1, 2015, extends the four-year statute of limitations for rape to eight years in Florida. The purpose is to extend the amount of time that the victim has to file a claim, especially if there are reasons for which the person is hesitant to come forward, such as when the person is living in the household with her/his assailant. Florida, like in 27 other states, may extend the statutes of limitations if DNA evidence matches with a possible assailant. Charges then must be brought within one year of the DNA match. This is known as the DNA exemption.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a criminal offense, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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