Being accused of rape, or any other sex crime, is a frightening experience for anyone. As frightening as being accused of a sexual offense can be, imagine being accused of one that happened years ago? Although it may seem unfair to accuse someone of a crime that happened so long ago you may not even remember details from that period of time, the reality is that under certain circumstances you can be prosecuted for a rape that occurred years ago in Florida.
In Florida, what most people refer to as “rape” is known as “sexual battery” by statute. Sexual battery can be charged as a second degree felony, a first degree felony, or a capital offense, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations. Almost all criminal offenses in Florida are subject to a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the time frame within which the State of Florida has to bring charges against a defendant. If the State fails to bring charges within the time period specified in the statute of limitations, and no exception applies, the State is forever barred from prosecuting the suspect.
The statute of limitations for sexual battery in Florida depends on what level of felony the offense is charged as. If the offense is charged as a first degree felony, the applicable state of limitations is four years. Most other offenses have a three year SOL except for a capital offense, a life felony, or an offense that resulted in death. When sexual battery is charged as one of these offenses there is no SOL, meaning that the State of Florida can prosecute a suspect at any time, even years after the alleged sexual battery occurred.
Sexual battery as a capital offense is defined as:
“A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age commits a capital felony.”
Sexual battery as a life felony is defined as follows:
“A person less than 18 years of age who commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age commits a life felony.”
“A person who commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older, without that person’s consent, and in the process thereof uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon or uses actual physical force likely to cause serious personal injury commits a life felony.”
If you have been charged with a sexual battery that allegedly occurred years ago it is imperative that you contact an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to begin working on your defense.