What is the Duty to Report Sexual Battery in Florida?: Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Explains
According to the Florida statutes, there are a variety of people and professions which are required to report suspected sexual battery and sexual misconduct in Florida. In Florida, people with the duty to report a sexual battery is someone who into one of these categories:
- “Has reasonable grounds to believe that he or she has observed the commission of a sexual battery”
- “Has the present ability to seek assistance for the victim or victims by immediately reporting such offense to a law enforcement officer”
- “Fails to seek such assistance” (if sexual abuse is known)
- “Would not be exposed to any threat of physical violence for seeking such assistance”
- “Is not the husband, wife, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister of the offender or victim, by consanguinity or affinity; and Is not the victim of such sexual battery”
An individual that fits these categories AND DOES NOT report the suspected sexual assault can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for not reporting are at least 1 year of jail time and up to a $1,000 fine.
How should someone report suspected sexual battery or sexual misconduct in Florida?
There are several ways that someone can report sexual battery.
You can always call 911 if you need help right away and believe that there is immediate danger to yourself or someone else.
You can also call the local police department or go to the police department to tell a police officer. Commonly, Florida police departments have agencies that specifically deal with only sexual assault and sex-related crimes in Florida. These agencies are commonly known as Sexual Response Teams and they work with survivors of sexual assault in Florida and have coordinated responses to sexual assault allegations, reports, and more.
On a college campus, there may be some kind of campus law enforcement in addition to the available local law enforcement resources. If you’re a victim of sexual assault in Florida, there are medical care centers that you can report to that have professionals you can go to and seek medical attention, help, and to report the crime and seek any additional help.
There is no time limit on reporting a sexual battery to the police, but there is a statute of limitations on how much time can pass from the occurrence of sexual assault and the present time in which a prosecutor can no longer file charges against the alleged sexual offender.
In Florida, there is no statute of limitations on a capital felony for sex crimes. A capital sex crime penalty has four years to be reported, so charges can be prosecuted for a felony in the first degree. Any other felony for sex crimes in Florida the limitation time for persecution is three years.
There is one exception to the sex-crime prosecution time-limit window in Florida: For a sexual battery first-degree felony charge against a minor, there is no statute of limitations in Florida.
While it is essential to report a crime if you witness one happening, we understand there are common concerns and fears people have about reporting a crime.
Some concerns about criminal conduct and whether or not you should report a crime include:
- The offender did not seem to the finish the assault and left or stopped.
- The witness may not be sure if the crime is serious enough to be reported.
- The witness may be worried that the person they report to will not believe them.
- The witness could be afraid that he or she is going to get in trouble.
- A witness who is a minor may be afraid of discipline from their parents or any other authority figure.
Police officers nationwide often receive training to take all accusations seriously and if a police officer does not take the allegations seriously, then there are other places and people to report to (and there could be consequences for that officer).
If you have any questions about sexual assault in Florida, don’t hesitate to reach out. Rossen Law Firm’s team of top-notch, award-winning attorneys are here for you when bad things happen to good people.
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