Hialeah Sexual Abuse Lawyers
Sexual abuse is a heinous crime that violates an individual's emotional and physical integrity. It can have devastating effects on victims, creating life-long problems.
Sexual assaults are among the most prevalent crimes in the United States but also the most unreported. Sexual abuse often happens in places that should be safe. Victims of sexual misconduct such as rape or molestation have the legal right to seek compensation from responsible parties.
It takes courage to come forward and confess a history of sexual assault. Survivors of sexual assault, particularly child sex abuse, often face legal barriers to seeking justice and compensation. However, federal and state laws protect victims' rights and help hold abusers accountable.
At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our team has years of experience dealing with sex abuse cases. Reach out to our Hialeah sexual abuse lawyers for clarification on Florida sex abuse laws and the best course of action.
Keep reading to learn more about sexual abuse.Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse includes any non-consensual sexual activity, and it often involves someone in a position of power or authority taking advantage of a person's trust.
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone. While there are many levels of sexual abuse, each occurrence can be extremely painful and heartbreaking. Some of the most common forms of sexual abuse include:
- Attempted rape
- Unsolicited touching or kissing
- Incest acts
- Threatening another person into unwanted sexual acts
Sexual abuse is not only wrong, but it is also criminal. Victims frequently suffer for extended periods, with some suffering life-long consequences.
Sexual predators frequently prey on vulnerable victims. Minors, for example, may lack the developmental capacity to comprehend what occurred during an abuse encounter. If someone was abused as a minor, simply because they did not expressly say no does not imply consent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every four females and one in every 13 males experience sexual abuse as children. Many incidences of sexual assault occur in places that should be safe, such as a church or while participating in a youth organization. Victims frequently recognize their perpetrators, including family members, relatives, acquaintances, instructors, or clergy.
Sexual abuse causes billions of dollars in damages per year. Victims of abuse understand that the emotional and physical toll of the ordeal extends far beyond healthcare costs.Sexual Abuse or Assault in Florida
Under Florida state law, sexual abuse or assault is "sexual battery." Florida courts refer to rape and other forms of sexual assault as sexual battery. Sexual battery is any unwanted sexual behavior against another party without consent. Florida Statute 794.011 defines sexual battery as vaginal, anal, or oral penetration without consent.Understanding Consent in Florida Sexual Abuse Cases
In Florida, consent means that a person agrees to a sexual act knowingly and willingly. Sexual battery is having sexual contact with someone without their permission. Consent doesn't mean the victim was not putting up physical resistance to the attack. Not fighting back is not the same as consenting.
According to Florida law, one must be 18 to be an adult. The law states that a person 24 or older that has sexual contact with a 16 or 17-year-old is guilty of a second-degree felony of sexual battery.
Persons 17 or younger can't give consent to someone 24 or older. If a person who is 18 or older has sexual contact with a child who is 12 or younger, they could go to prison for the rest of their lives. Sexual abuse of children is especially horrific, with severe punishments.
Other than children and minors, the following people also can't legally consent to sexual acts:
- People suffering from mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities
- People with physical disabilities
- Drugged or intoxicated individuals
- Physically helpless individuals, such as when asleep
Individuals who go through these conditions can't give legal consent and are more likely to be sexually abused because they can't fight back. Although women, children, and mentally or physically disabled people are most vulnerable to sexually abused, men can also be victims of sexual abuse.Negligent Security
Perpetrators of sexual assaults can be those frequently in contact with the victim, including coaches, coworkers, childcare personnel, instructors, counselors, or service providers. Some random acts of violence also occur in public places such as malls, hotels, or nightclubs.
Owners of public locations are responsible for offering a sufficient level of security for visitors. However, in many cases of sex abuse, another individual or organization can be at fault for failing to take adequate steps, such as:
- Failure to check the employees' backgrounds
- Failing to keep a known abuser away from children or other vulnerable people
- Lacking security measures such as lights or guards
Victims can take legal action to hold the property owner accountable for negligence if a sexual battery happens on their premises because of inadequate security measures.Lewd Acts and Other Sexual Crimes
Some types of sexual abuse are considered lewd or lascivious under Florida law. One example is indecently exposing one's genitals to a child or another person. It is possible that official charges could switch back and forth between sexual battery and lewd or lascivious behavior.
Child pornography, prostitution, incest, and sexual misconduct by someone in a position of trust over the victim are also crimes that carry severe penalties.
Victims of each of these wrongdoings can sue their perpetrators in civil court for damages and be awarded compensation for their suffering. Our Hialeah sexual abuse attorneys can assist victims in filing a claim against the perpetrator and any other parties liable for the abuse (by appointment only).Child Sex Abuse
Child abuse laws cover child sex abuse in Florida. According to Florida state law, child abuse is acts that cause physical or mental harm. It also includes all actions that cause or are likely to cause severe impairment to a child's health.
By integrating sexual abuse within the broader concept of child abuse, law enforcement and the legal system are empowered to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of penetrative and non-penetrative sexual actions with children.
Note that the phrase "willful acts" appears in the text of the law. Having sexual contact with an adult is still sexual abuse, regardless of whether or not the minor consented to the relationship.Can Adult Child Abuse Survivors Seek Compensation?
Sexual abuse of children can occur in a single incident, but in many situations, it repeatedly happens over weeks, months, or even years. Many victims may be reluctant to tell an adult about the abuse that they are experiencing for fear of retaliation.
Studies show that close to one-third of all occurrences of sexual abuse in children go unreported. Child sex abuse survivors often keep quiet about their abuse for years, if not decades. Overcoming emotional hurdles and reliving harrowing experiences is often necessary while trying to come to terms with the abuse and disclosing it to another person. The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV) reports that less than 10% of victims disclose childhood sexual abuse to a professional.
As a natural part of the maturation and healing process, adult survivors often wish to pursue legal action against their abuser and have a face-to-face confrontation with them. Florida has no statute of limitations for child abuse cases that happened before the victims were 16 years old.Effects of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse usually has life-altering effects and can have psychological, emotional, and physical consequences for the victim. These effects aren't easy to deal with, but they can be controlled with the right help and support. Learning more can assist victims in determining the appropriate type of care to begin the healing process.Physical Injury
In sexual assault cases, people often are also hurt physically. Some possible injuries are damage to the pelvic area, bruises, cuts, scrapes, sexually transmitted diseases, and fractures. Victims who suffer injuries after sexual assault should seek medical attention.
Some victims don't want to talk to doctors about how they were hurt, but this could keep them from seeking the care they need and make it more difficult for them to recover fully.Emotional Trauma
Sexual abuse victims usually suffer emotional and mental health issues such as:
- Depression and anxiety.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
- Flashbacks and panic attacks.
- Dissociation and isolation.
Most of these conditions are severe and require ongoing management and treatment.Financial Losses
In addition to the pain and suffering, sexual abuse can cost victims and their families money. Medical care and therapy can become expensive over time. After abuse, a person may find it difficult to find steady work to make a living. Victims can seek financial recovery by filing a claim with the help of an experienced Hialeah sexual abuse lawyer.Challenges in Future Life
Many victims of sexual abuse may end up haunted by their experiences for the rest of their lives. They often find it difficult to trust people after what happened, which affects future relationships.
Although victims can go to therapy and work on recovering, nothing can change the fact that they had to endure something awful and unfair. Some sexual abuse survivors may develop problems with drugs or alcohol.Criminal and Civil Actions Against Abusers Criminal Actions
Whether attempted or committed, sexual abuse and assault is generally a felony under criminal law. State prosecutors and the State of Florida criminally hold perpetrators of sexual assault criminally accountable. The abuser faces various possible penalties ranging from fines to prison sentences if found guilty.
Sexual assault that causes death is a capital offense that can result in life imprisonment. Second-degree sexual assault can lead to fines of up to $15,000 or a jail term of up to 15 years.
Cases involving minors and children have harsher punishments. Criminals that sexually assault children under 12 can receive a 25-year sentence. The state can enact the death penalty when child sex abuse perpetrators are over 18.
Those convicted of sexual battery must register as sex offenders. The sex offenders list is public data accessible by neighbors, potential employers and other significant parties. Members of this list are prohibited from living in some places, such as close to schools.Civil Actions
Most sexual assault victims are unaware they can and should seek monetary compensation from their attackers. Our experienced attorneys can help victims recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
Sexual assault victims have the right to seek monetary compensation from their attackers, just as victims of other types of injuries resulting from car or slip and fall accidents. Depending on the circumstances, the victim may also be able to sue the institution they were staying at or their caretakers.
The civil court system handles these claims rather than the criminal justice system. In addition to providing financial support for expenses such as therapy and medicine, personal injury claims for sexual assault can help the victim feel vindicated.Potential Defenses Raised by Sexual Abuse Perpetrators
An individual accused of sexual assault or abuse in Florida may have several viable legal defenses at their disposal. The defendant's criminal defense attorney's strategy will be determined by the nature of the charges against their client and the nature of the defendant's relationship with the alleged victim. Among the possible defenses are:
- Innocence - Victims may be confused or lie about a sexual assault.
- Mistaken identity - Victims may wrongfully identify an individual as the perpetrator.
- Consent - When eligible victims consent, then sexual assault doesn't happen.
- Impossibility - The defendant may have been too far from the location of the assault.
Other defenses include diminished capacity and false accusations.
Individuals who are wrongly suspected of committing sexual violence have rights too. A defendant must take sexual abuse charges seriously because of the significant consequences of a conviction. The sooner they contact a defense lawyer, the faster they can protect their legal rights.What Damages Can I Recover in my Sexual Abuse Claim?
Sex crime victims are entitled to seek damages in a civil court case. Compensation may include economic and non-economic damages such as:
- Present and future medical bills
- Psychological and psychiatric expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Our Hialeah sexual abuse lawyers work tirelessly to help victims of sexual assault seek fair compensation (by appointment only).Handling Insurance Companies When Seeking Damages
Knowing what to expect from the insurance company when filing a claim for sexual abuse is essential. As a business, insurance firms want to make a profit, and the insurance company will incur a loss if they settle a claim. Remember that the insurance adjuster is not on the victim's side, however friendly and respectful they may appear to be.
Even though the insurance adjuster sympathizes with what victims and families have been through, their ultimate goal is to minimize or even completely dismiss your claim. Having an attorney manage the negotiations might be a great way to increase your success chances.Florida Statute of Limitations for Sexual Battery Cases
Florida law imposes various time restrictions for filing sexual abuse charges depending on the type of crime. Classification of sex crimes in Florida can be complex, depending on the ages of abusers and victims.
Unless the prosecution meets particular circumstances, the statute of limitations on sexual assault is:
- Four years for first-degree felonies.
- Three years for second and third-degree felonies.
- No time limit for capital felonies.
These deadlines start from the date of the sexual assault incident. Sexual battery committed by an individual under 16 years has no statute of limitations.What Should I Do After a Sexual Attack
Victims of sexual attacks should:
- Get to safety.
- Call law enforcement or the police.
- Seek immediate medical attention.
- Consult a seasoned sexual abuse attorney.
- Reach out to support networks like the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).
After suffering sexual abuse in Florida, victims should avoid bathing or washing clothes. Taking a bath may remove crucial DNA evidence. Survivors should take clear photos of any injuries, write a detailed account of abuse, and seek medical care.
It is best to call someone trustworthy and local sex abuse centers to inform them about the traumatic event. Even if the abuse happened years ago, a victim should seek help.
Sexual abuse is a complex paradox that often leaves victims with lasting emotional pain. Taking the steps above will set a victim on the path to healing.Should I Hire a Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Sexual abuse is a gross injustice to victims. Having legal representation in Florida from a skilled and experienced sex abuse attorney can help victims seek the justice and compensation they deserve. Our Hialeah sexual abuse lawyers will help gather evidence supporting your sexual abuse claims, such as forensic evidence, DNA evidence, and medical records.
At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we are familiar with Florida's sexual abuse laws and important filing dates. Our team can offer advice on the value of your claim and fight on your behalf to seek fair compensation.
Call us today on (561) 800-8000 for a free case evaluation.