The #MeToo Movement
Today’s podcast touches on the sensitive subject of sexual abuse. This movement in Hollywood has given a voice to these stories. In Florida, 11,200 sex offenses are reported annually. This number is only a fraction of the number of sexual abuse offenses that actually occur.
Serious charges can come from these allegations. Let’s talk about what these potential charges are.
- First, we have the charge most people think of – rape. In Florida, this is called sexual battery. This is a felony. If you are convicted of “sexual battery,” you may go to prison for the rest of your life.
- Next, sexual battery can also be charged as a capital offense charge. Even though the death penalty is not applicable to sexual battery, if convicted, you may not have a right for possibility for parole.
- Molestation. This charge severity depends on the age of the perpetrator, and the victim.
- There is also a “false imprisonment” charge in some cases. This includes keeping someone against their will. We hear all the time about celebrities trapping a female in a room and will not let them leave. This is known as false imprisonment.
- Indecent Exposure. This is the exposure of one’s sexual organs. This is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
All of these charges are considered sex offenses and mean you may have to register as a sex offender for up to 40 years of your life, and in some cases, the remainder of your life.
Why haven’t we seen the majority of these cases? Because “money talks.” Many times, these “civil” cases are settled outside of court for large amounts of money.
What is the statute of limitations for reporting these allogations?
On a criminal side, there is no statute of limitations For capital cases:
If the state attorney’s office has the evidence to prove that claim, they can bring it at any time,
but there are varying statutes of limitation for misdemeanors, 3rd, 2nd and 1st degree felonies.
On the civil side, the rules have changed so immensely over the past few years that it is almost impossible to have “sol”. This used to be 4 years from the date it occurred. What they found was that people were not coming out and expressing what had happened until after they had reached the age of majority, so they changed the statute to give the victims 7 years after they reached the age of 18 to bring a civil cause of action. If you are a dependent of the abuser, then you have 4 years after you leave their dependency even if you are older than 25.
A lot of alleged abusers are getting sued whether or not there are criminal charges. Big factors in these cases are non-disclosure agreements. What are they? What is the purpose?
An NDA is a term inside of a settlement contract that states you cannot disclose the terms of the agreement or the underlying facts of the case, and if you do, you risk forfeiting whatever monetary award you’ve been given.
To the lawyers – let’s not forget – at least in Florida – it is unethical to negotiate civil penalties to avoid testimony in criminal cases. This is tampering with evidence, and you will find yourself in hot water in front of the bar.
If you are the victim of a crime, there should never be anything that is stopping you from testifying in whatever the criminal act was.
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