The 6-month jail sentence of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner has sparked a national discussion on the proper penalties for college athletes who commit sexual assault and other related crimes. Last week, this discussion resurfaced due to a crime that crosses state lines.Brandon Sheperd, 23, was arrested and charged with sexual battery after he was accused of raping a woman while on spring break in Panama City Beach, Florida. The woman reported that after she went to sleep with her clothes on, she awoke to find a man on top of her. A warrant was issued for Sheperd’s arrest on March 22 after his underwear and license were left at the scene of the crime.Sheperd formerly played on the Oklahoma State football team as a wide receiver, but appeared in Bay County Court after his arrest on Monday, June 12. He posted the $15,000 bond the next day and is set to appear for an arraignment on July 25. Not all sex crimes cases are settled as quickly as Shepherd’s. It may take victims months – or even years – to identity their alleged attacker and/or file a claim. This can still be done years after an attack, due to Florida’s statute of limitations.
How Florida’s Statute of Limitations Works
The statute of limitations is the length of time allotted for a victim to report a crime and file a claim against a defendant. This timeframe not only varies depending on the type of crime in question, but also from state to state. In Florida, the statute of limitations regarding sexual assault is as follows:
- Sexual abuse or incest of a minor (civil claim): 7 years
- Sexual abuse or incest in which the victim was a dependent of the abuser: 4 years
- Sexual abuse or incest that resulted in additional injuries: 4 years after the injury was discovered
- Sexual assault or abuse (criminal claim): 4 years (An additional year is given to victims or investigators who have discovered DNA evidence more than 4 years after the crime was committed)
- Sexual battery of a minor: no limit
- Aggravated Rape: no limit
Aggravated rape includes rape that involves a deadly weapon, more than one person, or serious injury to the victim.After the statute of limitations is up, the victim may not press criminal charges against the alleged attacker.For example, a sexual assault that was committed in 2008 cannot be brought up in criminal court today, unless the defendant presses charges of aggravated rape or sexual battery of a minor. However, if DNA evidence regarding a sexual assault committed in 2008 reveals information about the attacker in late 2015, the victim could press charges in criminal court.
Consequences for Florida Sex Crimes
Sex crimes that are reported many years after the alleged incident may seem like they are easier for a defendant to win because of the time that has passed and the lack of evidence available. However, it is important to craft a strong defense against sex crimes, no matter how much time has passed.Why? Because the penalties for sex crimes are so incredibly harsh in our state. Being put on Florida’s sex offender list has lifelong consequences that could limit where you live, work, and more. If you are afraid you may be charged with a sex crime, even if the alleged incident occurred many years ago, it is important to contact an experienced, well-respected criminal defense lawyer today.About the Author:Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he's done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.