“Donna’s Law” – a bill to eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual assault against minor victims – unanimously passed the House and Senate and will now go to the Governor’s desk for approval.
Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando), the bill’s Senate sponsor, celebrated its passage.
“This is a major win for survivors and shows the true power of speaking out and sharing your story. This is proof that the Florida Legislature hears your voices, and that change is made by people who show the strength to come forward and fight to protect victims,” said Stewart.
CS/HB 199, co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville) and Rep. Scott Plakon (R-Longwood), and CS/SB 170 eliminate the statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual assault against any victim under the age of 18, regardless of whether the victim reports the crime within 72 hours. This replaces a complicated system of varying time limitations based on the age of the victim and reporting requirements. The bill was inspired by women such as Donna Hedrick who found the courage to come forward and share their stories, only to find that they were barred from seeking justice by an arbitrary deadline.
“Over the years, time limitations have continued to expand for victims, but the time has finally come for them to be removed altogether for minors. This is just the right thing to do, and I thank my colleagues in both chambers for listening to the experiences and being a part of this positive change for the future,” said Stewart.