Among the most serious violations of the law that a person can commit is any form of sexual abuse. Florida’s criminal justice system, working through police departments and district attorney’s offices, aims to punish these defendants with harsh prison sentences.
In some cases, the defendant evades conviction through poor police work, or when the prosecutor cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite the defendant not being convicted in the criminal courts, their victims still have a means to achieve some level of justice. Tampa sexual abuse lawyers work with clients to pursue civil suits against their attackers, regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, to demand financial compensation and take another step towards closure.
A plaintiff may want to examine alternate defendants to the suit. If the assailant was acting on their own, then they are an obvious choice for the suit. A business owner or landlord may be responsible for negligent hiring or inadequate security that allowed the assailant to come into contact with you. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney regarding the facts of your case to prepare for filing a claim.
Tampa Sexual Abuse Laws
The criminal and civil justice systems are related, but separate. Even if both cases result from the same set of facts, the cases will be tried separately and under different rules. Civil claims alleging sexual abuse will center around any number of causes of actions known as intentional torts. These are intentional actions that have been defined by Florida’s courts as situations where the victim can demand damages from a defendant.
A Tampa sexual abuse lawyer can examine the facts of an individual’s case to determine under which of the intentional torts to file a case.
Examples of these include, but are not limited to:
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- False imprisonment
If a person is accused of sexual assault they may be tried, convicted, and sentenced in criminal court. Beyond a victim identifying their attacker and testifying in court, there is nothing more that private citizens can do. Whether the defendant is convicted or not has nothing to do with a civil sexual assault claim.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for claims involving sexual abuse is more complicated than those for a normal personal injury case. A statute of limitations is defined as a time limit within which a plaintiff must initiate their claim in court.
Florida Statute describes these limits as:
- If a plaintiff under the age of 16 was the accuser of sexual battery, they can file a claim at any time
- For all other forms of abuse, accusers under the age of 18 have seven years after turning 18 to file a claim. In other words, they can file a claim until they reach 25
- If the defendant was dependent upon the abuser, they have up to four years after leaving the abuser to file a claim, regardless of the defendant’s age
- In all other instances, the injured party has four years after the discovery of the injuries. Since phenomena such as repressed memories can delay the discovery of the abuse, this can be more than four years after the abuse ends
Speaking with an Attorney
Whenever a person faces sexual abuse, the situation can be life-changing and traumatic. The accuser should contact the police and let the criminal justice system pursue charges against the assailant. Regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, the victim will need to take action on their own to pursue monetary damages from the abuser.
Tampa sexual abuse lawyers represent clients to fight for compensation from their abusers in the civil courts. They will listen to your story with compassion and patience. Afterward, they will identify the proper defendants, determine which intentional torts apply to your situation, and litigate your case with strength and diligence. When you have come to the decision to pursue a civil claim against your abuser, contact Tampa sexual abuse attorneys to take a step towards justice.