FLORIDA

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

There is currently no SOL in Florida against any defendants for civil claims involving sexual battery of children under age 16, and an SOL of age 25, plus a 4-year discovery rule for sexual battery claims involving 16 and 17 year-olds and any other claims relating to child sex abuse. 

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

NONE FOR SEXUAL BATTERY OF CHILD UNDER AGE 16

AGE 25 FOR OTHER CHILD SEX ABUSE

DISCOVERY TOLLING

4 YEARS

REVIVAL LAW

NONE

 

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap: As of 1992, Florida’s civil SOL for child sex abuse was age 25 (age of majority, 18, plus 7 years) or date of discovery plus 4 years, whichever is later. In 2010, the state eliminated the civil SOL for sexual battery offenses only against victims under age 16.

Discovery: In 2000, the Florida Supreme Court recognized a common law delayed discovery doctrine for child sex abuse, holding that a cause of action would not accrue – the 4-year SOL would not begin to run – until a victim with repressed memories discovers the abuse. Courts interpreting the discovery rule for repressed memories have limited its application to intentional tort actions against a perpetrator of abuse, with the exception of a respondeat superior claim against an employer based on vicarious liability. In 1992, Florida adopted a broader statutory discovery rule of 4 years after the individual reasonably discovers the causal connection between their injury and the sexual abuse. Though the statutory discovery provision is not limited to claims against perpetrators, it has not been successfully applied to actions against non-perpetrator defendants.

Revival Law:  Florida has not passed a window or other SOL revival legislation since 2002.

CURRENT FLORIDA CIVIL LAW

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 95.11 - Limitations other than for the recovery of real property

Actions other than for recovery of real property shall be commenced as follows:

(1) Within twenty years.–An action on a judgment or decree of a court of record in this state.

(2) Within five years.–

(a) An action on a judgment or decree of any court, not of record, of this state or any court of the United States, any other state or territory in the United States, or a foreign country.

(b) A legal or equitable action on a contract, obligation, or liability founded on a written instrument, except for an action to enforce a claim against a payment bond, which shall be governed by the applicable provisions of paragraph (5)(e), s. 255.05(10), s. 337.18(1), or s. 713.23(1)(e), and except for an action for a deficiency judgment governed by paragraph (5)(h).

(c) An action to foreclose a mortgage.

(d) An action alleging a willful violation of s. 448.110.

(e) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), an action for breach of a property insurance contract, with the period running from the date of loss.

(3) Within four years.–

(a) An action founded on negligence.

(b) An action relating to the determination of paternity, with the time running from the date the child reaches the age of majority.

(c) An action founded on the design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property, with the time running from the date of actual possession by the owner, the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or the date of completion of the contract or termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect, or licensed contractor and his or her employer, whichever date is latest; except that, when the action involves a latent defect, the time runs from the time the defect is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence. In any event, the action must be commenced within 10 years after the date of actual possession by the owner, the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or the date of completion of the contract or termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect, or licensed contractor and his or her employer, whichever date is latest. However, counterclaims, cross-claims, and third-party claims that arise out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out or attempted to be set out in a pleading may be commenced up to 1 year after the pleading to which such claims relate is served, even if such claims would otherwise be time barred. With respect to actions founded on the design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property, if such construction is performed pursuant to a duly issued building permit and if a local enforcement agency, state enforcement agency, or special inspector, as those terms are defined in s. 553.71, has issued a final certificate of occupancy or certificate of completion, then as to the construction which is within the scope of such building permit and certificate, the correction of defects to completed work or repair of completed work, whether performed under warranty or otherwise, does not extend the period of time within which an action must be commenced. Completion of the contract means the later of the date of final performance of all the contracted services or the date that final payment for such services becomes due without regard to the date final payment is made.

(d) An action to recover public money or property held by a public officer or employee, or former public officer or employee, and obtained during, or as a result of, his or her public office or employment.

(e) An action for injury to a person founded on the design, manufacture, distribution, or sale of personal property that is not permanently incorporated in an improvement to real property, including fixtures.

(f) An action founded on a statutory liability.

(g) An action for trespass on real property.

(h) An action for taking, detaining, or injuring personal property.

(i) An action to recover specific personal property.

(j) A legal or equitable action founded on fraud.

(k) A legal or equitable action on a contract, obligation, or liability not founded on a written instrument, including an action for the sale and delivery of goods, wares, and merchandise, and on store accounts.

(l) An action to rescind a contract.

(m) An action for money paid to any governmental authority by mistake or inadvertence.

(n) An action for a statutory penalty or forfeiture.

(o) An action for assault, battery, false arrest, malicious prosecution, malicious interference, false imprisonment, or any other intentional tort, except as provided in subsections (4), (5), and (7).

(p) Any action not specifically provided for in these statutes.

(q) An action alleging a violation, other than a willful violation, of s. 448.110.

(4) Within two years.–

(a) An action for professional malpractice, other than medical malpractice, whether founded on contract or tort; provided that the period of limitations shall run from the time the cause of action is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence. However, the limitation of actions herein for professional malpractice shall be limited to persons in privity with the professional.

(b) An action for medical malpractice shall be commenced within 2 years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within 2 years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence; however, in no event shall the action be commenced later than 4 years from the date of the incident or occurrence out of which the cause of action accrued, except that this 4-year period shall not bar an action brought on behalf of a minor on or before the child’s eighth birthday. An “action for medical malpractice” is defined as a claim in tort or in contract for damages because of the death, injury, or monetary loss to any person arising out of any medical, dental, or surgical diagnosis, treatment, or care by any provider of health care. The limitation of actions within this subsection shall be limited to the health care provider and persons in privity with the provider of health care. In those actions covered by this paragraph in which it can be shown that fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation of fact prevented the discovery of the injury the period of limitations is extended forward 2 years from the time that the injury is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence, but in no event to exceed 7 years from the date the incident giving rise to the injury occurred, except that this 7-year period shall not bar an action brought on behalf of a minor on or before the child’s eighth birthday. This paragraph shall not apply to actions for which ss. 766.301-766.316 provide the exclusive remedy.

(c) An action to recover wages or overtime or damages or penalties concerning payment of wages and overtime.

(d) An action for wrongful death.

(e) An action founded upon a violation of any provision of chapter 517, with the period running from the time the facts giving rise to the cause of action were discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence, but not more than 5 years from the date such violation occurred.

(f) An action for personal injury caused by contact with or exposure to phenoxy herbicides while serving either as a civilian or as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States during the period January 1, 1962, through May 7, 1975; the period of limitations shall run from the time the cause of action is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.

(g) An action for libel or slander.

(5) Within one year.–

(a) An action for specific performance of a contract.

(b) An action to enforce an equitable lien arising from the furnishing of labor, services, or material for the improvement of real property.

(c) An action to enforce rights under the Uniform Commercial Code–Letters of Credit, chapter 675.

(d) An action against any guaranty association and its insured, with the period running from the date of the deadline for filing claims in the order of liquidation.

(e) Except for actions governed by s. 255.05(10), s. 337.18(1), or s. 713.23(1)(e), an action to enforce any claim against a payment bond on which the principal is a contractor, subcontractor, or sub-subcontractor as defined in s. 713.01, for private work as well as public work, from the last furnishing of labor, services, or materials or from the last furnishing of labor, services, or materials by the contractor if the contractor is the principal on a bond on the same construction project, whichever is later.

(f) Except for actions described in subsection (8), a petition for extraordinary writ, other than a petition challenging a criminal conviction, filed by or on behalf of a prisoner as defined in s. 57.085.

(g) Except for actions described in subsection (8), an action brought by or on behalf of a prisoner, as defined in s. 57.085, relating to the conditions of the prisoner’s confinement.

(h) An action to enforce a claim of a deficiency related to a note secured by a mortgage against a residential property that is a one-family to four-family dwelling unit. The limitations period shall commence on the day after the certificate is issued by the clerk of court or the day after the mortgagee accepts a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

(6) Laches.–Laches shall bar any action unless it is commenced within the time provided for legal actions concerning the same subject matter regardless of lack of knowledge by the person sought to be held liable that the person alleging liability would assert his or her rights and whether the person sought to be held liable is injured or prejudiced by the delay. This subsection shall not affect application of laches at an earlier time in accordance with law.

(7) For intentional torts based on abuse.–An action founded on alleged abuse, as defined in s. 39.01, s. 415.102, or s. 984.03, or incest, as defined in s. 826.04, may be commenced at any time within 7 years after the age of majority, or within 4 years after the injured person leaves the dependency of the abuser, or within 4 years from the time of discovery by the injured party of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the abuse, whichever occurs later.

(8) Within 30 days for actions challenging correctional disciplinary proceedings.–Any court action challenging prisoner disciplinary proceedings conducted by the Department of Corrections pursuant to s. 944.28(2) must be commenced within 30 days after final disposition of the prisoner disciplinary proceedings through the administrative grievance process under chapter 33, Florida Administrative Code. Any action challenging prisoner disciplinary proceedings shall be barred by the court unless it is commenced within the time period provided by this section.

(9) Sexual battery offenses on victims under age 16.–An action related to an act constituting a violation of s. 794.011 involving a victim who was under the age of 16 at the time of the act may be commenced at any time. This subsection applies to any such action other than one which would have been time barred on or before July 1, 2010.

(10) For intentional torts resulting in death from acts described in s. 782.04 or s. 782.07.–Notwithstanding paragraph (4)(d), an action for wrongful death seeking damages authorized under s. 768.21 brought against a natural person for an intentional tort resulting in death from acts described in s. 782.04 or s. 782.07 may be commenced at any time. This subsection shall not be construed to require an arrest, the filing of formal criminal charges, or a conviction for a violation of s. 782.04 or s. 782.07 as a condition for filing a civil action.

(11) Court costs and fines.–Notwithstanding subsection (1), an action to collect court costs, fees, or fines owed to the state may be commenced at any time.

(7) For intentional torts based on abuse.–An action founded on alleged abuse, as defined in s. 39.01, s. 415.102, or s. 984.03, or incest, as defined in s. 826.04, may be commenced at any time within 7 years after the age of majority, or within 4 years after the injured person leaves the dependency of the abuser, or within 4 years from the time of discovery by the injured party of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the abuse, whichever occurs later.

(9) Sexual battery offenses on victims under age 16.–An action related to an act constituting a violation of s. 794.011 involving a victim who was under the age of 16 at the time of the act may be commenced at any time. This subsection applies to any such action other than one which would have been time barred on or before July 1, 2010.

Case law

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

There is currently no SOL in Florida for certain felony child sex abuse crimes, and the SOL for misdemeanors is 2 years from the offense.

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

OTHER FELNOIES

CAPITAL OR LIFE FELONIES

 NO SOL Fla. Stat. § 775.15(1)

SEXUAL BATTERY OF MINOR

NO SOL Fla. Stat. § 775.15(13)(b)

TRAFFICKING

NO SOL Fla. Stat. § 775.15(19)

LEWD & LASCIVIOUS CONDUCT OF CHILDREN UNDER 16

NO SOL Fla. Stat. § 775.15(18)

MISDEMEANORS

2 YEARS FROM OFFENSE Fla. Stat. § 775.15(2)(c)

 

DNA SNAPSHOT

 

AGGRAVATED BATTERY OR ANY FELONY BATTERY NO SOL Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.15 (16a)

KIDNAPPING OR FALSE IMPRISONMENT NO SOL Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.15 (16a)
SEXUAL BATTERY NO SOL Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.15 (16a)
LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS OFFENSE
NO SOL Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.15 (16a)
AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE NO SOL Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.15 (16a)
CHILD PORNOGRAPHY NO SOL Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.15 (16a)

 

Changes Since 2002:

As of 2002, there was no criminal SOL for capital or life felonies which included some sexual battery offenses. The SOL for other first degree child sex abuse crimes was age 22 (age of majority, 18, plus 4 years) and age 21 (age of majority, 18, plus 3 years) for the remaining felonies. There was also no SOL for first and second-degree sexual battery if it was reported to law enforcement within 72 hours of the crime. Florida eliminated the criminal SOL for first degree felony sexual battery in 2003 and for second and third-degree sexual battery of children under 16 in 2010. It added a 1-year extension to the SOL in 2004 and in 2006 eliminated the SOL if there is a DNA match. Florida extended the SOL for child pornography in 2008 by adding it to the DNA statute and not running the SOL until the victim reaches age 18. In 2014, Florida removed the SOL for lewd and lascivious conduct of children under 16 and for all forms of trafficking. A 2015 amendment extended the SOL for second and third-degree sexual battery of 16 and 17 year-old children to age 26 (age of majority, 18, plus 8 years). A 2020 amendment eliminated the SOL for second and third-degree sexual battery of 16 and 17 year-old children for offenses committed on or after July 1, 2020. The SOL for misdemeanors remains 2 years from the offense.

CURRENT FLORIDA CRIMINAL LAW

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.15 - Time limitations; general time limitations; exceptions

(1) A prosecution for a capital felony, a life felony, or a felony that resulted in a death may be commenced at any time. If the death penalty is held to be unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, all crimes designated as capital felonies shall be considered life felonies for the purposes of this section, and prosecution for such crimes may be commenced at any time.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions for other offenses are subject to the following periods of limitation:

(a) A prosecution for a felony of the first degree must be commenced within 4 years after it is committed.

(b) A prosecution for any other felony must be commenced within 3 years after it is committed.

(c) A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the first degree must be commenced within 2 years after it is committed.

(d) A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the second degree or a noncriminal violation must be commenced within 1 year after it is committed.

(3) An offense is committed either when every element has occurred or, if a legislative purpose to prohibit a continuing course of conduct plainly appears, at the time when the course of conduct or the defendant’s complicity therein is terminated. Time starts to run on the day after the offense is committed.

(4)(a) Prosecution on a charge on which the defendant has previously been arrested or served with a summons is commenced by the filing of an indictment, information, or other charging document.

(b) A prosecution on a charge on which the defendant has not previously been arrested or served with a summons is commenced when either an indictment or information is filed, provided the capias, summons, or other process issued on such indictment or information is executed without unreasonable delay. In determining what is reasonable, inability to locate the defendant after diligent search or the defendant’s absence from the state shall be considered. The failure to execute process on or extradite a defendant in another state who has been charged by information or indictment with a crime in this state shall not constitute an unreasonable delay.

(c) If, however, an indictment or information has been filed within the time period prescribed in this section and the indictment or information is dismissed or set aside because of a defect in its content or form after the time period has elapsed, the period for commencing prosecution shall be extended 3 months from the time the indictment or information is dismissed or set aside.

(5) The period of limitation does not run during any time when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state. This provision shall not extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 3 years, but shall not be construed to limit the prosecution of a defendant who has been timely charged by indictment or information or other charging document and who has not been arrested due to his or her absence from this state or has not been extradited for prosecution from another state.

(6) A prosecution for perjury in an official proceeding that relates to the prosecution of a capital felony may be commenced at any time.

(7) A prosecution for a felony that resulted in injury to any person, when such felony arises from the use of a “destructive device,” as defined in s. 790.001, may be commenced within 10 years.

(8) A prosecution for a felony violation of chapter 517 or s. 409.920 must be commenced within 5 years after the violation is committed.

(9) A prosecution for a felony violation of chapter 403 must be commenced within 5 years after the date of discovery of the violation.

(10) A prosecution for a felony violation of s. 825.102 or s. 825.103 must be commenced within 5 years after it is committed.

(11) A prosecution for a felony violation of ss. 440.105 and 817.234 must be commenced within 5 years after the violation is committed.

(12) If the period prescribed in subsection (2), subsection (8), subsection (9), subsection (10), or subsection (11) has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for:

(a) Any offense, a material element of which is either fraud or a breach of fiduciary obligation, within 1 year after discovery of the offense by an aggrieved party or by a person who has a legal duty to represent an aggrieved party and who is himself or herself not a party to the offense, but in no case shall this provision extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 3 years.

(b) Any offense based upon misconduct in office by a public officer or employee at any time when the defendant is in public office or employment, within 2 years from the time he or she leaves public office or employment, or during any time permitted by any other part of this section, whichever time is greater.

(13)(a) If the victim of a violation of s. 794.011, former s. 794.05, Florida Statutes 1995, s. 800.04, s. 826.04, or s. 847.0135(5) is under the age of 18, the applicable period of limitation, if any, does not begin to run until the victim has reached the age of 18 or the violation is reported to a law enforcement agency or other governmental agency, whichever occurs earlier. Such law enforcement agency or other governmental agency shall promptly report such allegation to the state attorney for the judicial circuit in which the alleged violation occurred. If the offense is a first or second degree felony violation of s. 794.011, and the offense is reported within 72 hours after its commission, the prosecution for such offense may be commenced at any time. This paragraph applies to any such offense except an offense the prosecution of which would have been barred by subsection (2) on or before December 31, 1984.

(b) If the offense is a first degree felony violation of s. 794.011 and the victim was under 18 years of age at the time the offense was committed, a prosecution of the offense may be commenced at any time. This paragraph applies to any such offense except an offense the prosecution of which would have been barred by subsection (2) on or before October 1, 2003.

(c) If the offense is a violation of s. 794.011 and the victim was under 16 years of age at the time the offense was committed, a prosecution of the offense may be commenced at any time. This paragraph applies to any such offense except an offense the prosecution of which would have been barred by subsection (2) on or before July 1, 2010.

(14)(a) A prosecution for a first or second degree felony violation of s. 794.011, if the victim is 16 years of age or older at the time of the offense and the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency within 72 hours after commission of the offense, may be commenced at any time.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a) or paragraph (13)(b), a prosecution for a first or second degree felony violation of s. 794.011, if the victim is 16 years of age or older at the time of the offense, must be commenced within 8 years after the violation is committed. This paragraph applies to any such offense except an offense the prosecution of which would have been barred by subsection (2) on or before July 1, 2015.

(15)(a) In addition to the time periods prescribed in this section, a prosecution for any of the following offenses may be commenced within 1 year after the date on which the identity of the accused is established, or should have been established by the exercise of due diligence, through the analysis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence, if a sufficient portion of the evidence collected at the time of the original investigation and tested for DNA is preserved and available for testing by the accused:

  1. An offense of sexual battery under chapter 794.
  2. A lewd or lascivious offense under s. 800.04 or s. 825.1025.

(b) This subsection applies to any offense that is not otherwise barred from prosecution between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2006.

(16)(a) In addition to the time periods prescribed in this section, a prosecution for any of the following offenses may be commenced at any time after the date on which the identity of the accused is established, or should have been established by the exercise of due diligence, through the analysis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence, if a sufficient portion of the evidence collected at the time of the original investigation and tested for DNA is preserved and available for testing by the accused:

  1. Aggravated battery or any felony battery offense under chapter 784.
  2. Kidnapping under s. 787.01 or false imprisonment under s. 787.02.
  3. An offense of sexual battery under chapter 794.
  4. A lewd or lascivious offense under s. 800.04, s. 825.1025, or s. 847.0135(5).
  5. A burglary offense under s. 810.02.
  6. A robbery offense under s. 812.13, s. 812.131, or s. 812.135.
  7. Carjacking under s. 812.133.
  8. Aggravated child abuse under s. 827.03.

(b) This subsection applies to any offense that is not otherwise barred from prosecution on or after July 1, 2006.

(17) In addition to the time periods prescribed in this section, a prosecution for video voyeurism in violation of s. 810.145 may be commenced within 1 year after the date on which the victim of video voyeurism obtains actual knowledge of the existence of such a recording or the date on which the recording is confiscated by a law enforcement agency, whichever occurs first. Any dissemination of such a recording before the victim obtains actual knowledge thereof or before its confiscation by a law enforcement agency does not affect any provision of this subsection.

(18) If the offense is a violation of s. 800.04(4) or (5) and the victim was under 16 years of age at the time the offense was committed, a prosecution of the offense may be commenced at any time, unless, at the time of the offense, the offender is less than 18 years of age and is no more than 4 years older than the victim. This subsection applies to an offense that is not otherwise barred from prosecution on or before October 1, 2014.

(19) A prosecution for a violation of s. 787.06 may be commenced at any time. This subsection applies to any such offense except an offense the prosecution of which would have been barred by subsection (2) on or before October 1, 2014.

Case Law

The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the Florida SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.

IT'S EASY TO DONATE TO CHILD USA

                                               

CONTACT US

info@childusa.org

215.539.1906

3508 Market Street

Suite 202

Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

 

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: CHILD USA, 3508 MARKET STREET, Philadelphia, PA, 19104. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact