In a recent blog post, we discussed a development in the case against comedian Bill Cosby who had been accused of sexual assault by multiple women. In that post, we reported that he has officially been charged with aggravated indecent assault.
We also mentioned that the window of time for the accuser to file charges was nearly closed; had a few more months passed, the statute of limitations would have prevented such charges from being filed. In this post, we would like to elaborate a little more on statutes of limitations and explain why they are especially crucial in cases involving sexual abuse or assault.
First, we should back up and explain statutes of limitations. These are laws that put time limits on criminal accusations to prevent people from filing charges in regards to something that happened too long ago.
These limits vary between states and depend on the specific charges; even if you think you know when an accusation expires, you could learn the hard way that you are mistaken.
For instance, in accordance with Florida laws, prosecutors must file sexual battery charges within three years for a felony offense, unless it is a first-degree felony in which case they have four years to file charges. If an offense is being charged as a capital felony, felony that resulted in death or a life felony, there is no statute of limitations in place. Misdemeanor offenses have the shortest limitations.
Several factors can alter the statutes of limitations including where the incident occurred, age of the alleged victim, number of perpetrators involved and when the period of limitation actually begins. Further, not all sexually-related offenses are created equal; some have longer statutes of limitations than others and every detail of the alleged event can have an effect on these limits.
With all this in mind, it is not surprising that people get confused when it comes to statutes of limitations. This confusion can have costly consequences if it is not cleared up sooner, rather than later. In order to protect yourself and your rights, it can be crucial that you understand what Florida and federal laws are in place regarding statutes of limitations for sex crimes.