What are mandatory reporting guidelines or laws about Sexual Battery and Lewd and Lascivious behavior in Florida?

A woman stand against a wall with her hand in front of her face. mandatory reporting guidelines in Florida for Sexual battery and abuseWhen deciding whether or not you must report a case or suspicion of sexual battery, you first need to know whether or not you are a mandatory reporter. 

 

A mandated reporter is someone who is required by Florida law to report reasonable suspicions of abuse. 

 

Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare is a mandatory reporter (§39.201(1)(a), Florida Statutes). 

 

 Any person, including but not limited to state, county, or municipal criminal justice employees or law enforcement officers, who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a vulnerable adult has been or is being abused, neglected, or exploited must make a report. (§415.1034(a)5, Florida Statutes)

 

Professional Mandatory reporters include all of the following:

  • Physicians: 
    • osteopathic physician, Physician, osteopathic physician, medical examiner, chiropractic medical examiner, chiropractic physician, nurse, or physician, nurse, or hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons
  • Health or mental health professional
  • Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing
  • School teacher or other school official or personnel
  • Social worker, day care center worker, or other professional child care, foster care, residential or institutional worker
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Judge

If you fall into any of these above categories, you are considered a mandatory reporter. 

 

As a mandatory reporter,  the following applies to you when it comes to knowing about or having suspicion of Sexual Battery :

A mandatory reporter is required to report to law enforcement when you have knowledge of a sexual battery (Fla. Stat. 497.027)

 

Florida Law requires that any person who observes a sexual battery and who has the ability to seek assistance for the victim without being exposed to a threat of physical violence must make a report.

 

Sexual battery and assault crimes in Florida include when a person has non-consensual oral, anal, or vaginal contact with another person using either their sexual organ or an object.

  • If the report contains information of an instance of known or suspected child abuse involving impregnation of a child under 16 years of age by a person 21 years of age or older, the report shall be made immediately to the appropriate county sheriff's office or other appropriate law enforcement agency. 

What other situations require mandatory reporting in Florida?

Vulnerable Adult and Child abuse are other situations, in addition to sexual battery, that requires mandatory reporters to report to law enforcement in the state of Florida. If you know of any parent or legal guardian that is abusing or neglecting their child, it is your legal responsibility as a mandatory reporter to report it under Florida law.

 

Child looks sad and grabs a man's leg, and the man's arm is around the child's back. In Florida, child abuse must be reported by mandatory reportersChild abuse in Florida includes:

  •  A child in need of supervision who has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult.
  • A child abused by a parent, caregiver, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare. 
  • Child abuse, abandonment, or neglect by any adult.
  • Child abuse by a known or suspected juvenile sex offender.  
  • If the report contains information of an instance of known or suspected child abuse involving impregnation of a child under 16 years of age by a person 21 years of age or older, the report shall be made immediately to the appropriate county sheriff's office or other appropriate law enforcement agency. 
  • Reports involving surrendered newborn infants shall be made and received by the department.
 

I’m a Mandatory reporter in Florida - How do I report suspected sexual battery or abuse? 

  • Child and adult abuse should be reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) through either the DCF statewide hotline (call 1-800-96-ABUSE) (1-800- 962-2873) or through the DCF website at reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us 
    • The hotline also accepts faxes at 1-800-914-0004 and web-based chats on their website. 
    • If the abuse is by an adult other than a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, the report will be transferred by hotline staff to the appropriate county sheriff’s office. 
  • If the alleged abuse is by a juvenile or involves a child who is in the custody or protective supervision of the department, the report shall be transferred by the hotline to the county sheriff’s office.  

What are the consequences for failing to report sexual battery or abuse if I am a Mandatory Reporter in Florida?

Consequences for when an individual who is a mandatory reporter fails to report a child abuse or sexual battery crime can be a misdemeanor or even a felony in Florida:

  • Failure to report an instance of child abuse to DCF in Florida is a third-degree felony. 
  • If someone observes or becomes aware of a crime of sexual battery and fails to report the crime, they are guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor where that person:
    • 1) has reasonable grounds to believe that he or she has observed the commission of a sexual battery; 
    • 2) has the present ability to seek assistance for the victim or victims by immediately reporting such offense to a law enforcement officer; 
    • 3) fails to seek such assistance; 
    • 4) would not be exposed to any threat of physical violence for seeking such assistance; 
    • 5) is not the husband, wife, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister of the offender or victim, by consanguinity or affinity; and 
    • 6) is not the victim of such sexual battery. 

Any institution of learning or medical facility that does not report an abuse-related crime of which they are required to report under Florida law can face penalties of up to $1 million in fines. Additionally, there is a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison for the person who fails to report the crime. 

 

Mandatory reporting is taken very seriously under Florida law and it is the duty of healthcare professionals, professors and many others to report any abuse related crimes they have knowledge of whether they were involved in the crimes or not.

 

What should I do if I’m involved in a case in which a mandatory reporter in Florida implicated me in a sexual abuse or child abuse situation?


If you are involved in a case where mandatory reporting in Florida implicated you in a suspected or known abuse situation - perhaps your child’s teacher made a report out of concern for your child - the first thing you should do is contact an experienced local criminal defense attorney

 

Not only will they inform you of your options, they will also guide you through all the investigation and court procedures and help make the process as simple as possible while abiding by any and all laws in place. Due to the severity of the case it is extremely important to immediately make contact with a lawyer - as the longer you wait, the lesser likelihood of the case being handled properly. The sooner a criminal defense attorney is involved, the more effectively your rights can be protected. 


If you are a mandatory reporter, but are found to have failed to report a sexual battery or instance of abuse that you should have reported - you will also want to contact a criminal defense lawyer. In Florida, failure to report abuse as a mandatory reporter can be a felony so it’s important to protect yourself and your rights. 
 

To find out more information on Florida Mandatory Reporting guidelines and laws, search for information on USA Gov.  

 

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