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Crist Signs Time Extension for Sex Battery Charges

The time limit on filing charges in cases of sex abuse of children under 16 years old is eliminated by a bill signed by Gov. Charlie Crist, one of more than 30 pieces of legislation he signed without comment late Tuesday night.

The bill eliminating the sex crimes time limit (HB 525) removes the statute of limitations for both criminal and civil liability. The bill as pushed by Lawyer Michael Dolce and Lauren Book, the daughter of lobbyist Ron Book, who were victimized as children and could not go after their abusers when they finally could deal with the abuse.

Crist also signed legislation (HB 1) that removes a time limit on filing wrongful death actions in certain cases. The bill came out of the Jeffrey Klee case in Broward County. Klee's body was found after being submerged in a canal for 31 years and law enforcement officials say they believe they know who killed Klee. The statute of limitations has run on manslaughter - which is what the charge would likely be - and the family has no recourse in civil court either because there is a two year deadline for filing wrongful death suits. The bill isn't retroactive so it won't help the Klees, but the family has helped push for the bill in the past.

The homeless will be protected from attacks based on their lack of housing under another bill (HB 11) the governor signed into law. The measure, which drew long passionate debate near the end of the session, heightens penalties for crimes committed against homeless persons if the attack was made because the victim was homeless. Critics said it would be difficult to enforce because it involves intent. Backers say, like other hate crimes, the burden would be on the state to prove that homelessness was the primary reason for the crime.

Another bill (HB 105) Crist signed will require middle school students to take a civics course and pass an end-of-course exam to move to the next grade. Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, had said the only way educators can be sure that students know the material is for them to pass an exam. If a student fails the exam, he or she will get another chance to pass it.

Crist also signed legislation (HB 523) creating a Civil Rights Hall of Fame exhibit at the Capitol.

Other bills Crist signed Tuesday night were:

-HB 33 related to selling of alcoholic beverages
-HB 159 related to guaranty associations
-HB 163 related to prepaid cell phone services
-HB 317 related to threats-HB  521 related to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children      
-HB 573  related to physicians assistants     
-HB 661 related to minimum surplus requirements for mortgage guaranty insurers            
-HB 747 related to Diabetes 
-HB 751 related to automatic renewal of service contracts
-HB 787 related to child abduction prevention       
-HB 821 related to international commercial arbitration     
-HB 885 related to life insurance   
-HB 951 related to public safety     
-HB 985 related to peddling at camp meetings       
-HB 1005 related to corrections        
-HB 1059 related to public records          
-HB 1279 related to assessment of property for back ad valorem taxes       
-HB 1281 related to loan origination              
-HB 1363 related to postsecondary student fee       
-HB 1493 related to career offenders           
-HB 7037 related to education           
-HB 7087 related to open government sunset review of guardians ad litem          
-HB 7089 related to  open government sunset review of florida self-insurers guaranty association             
-HB 7091 related to open government sunset review of insurance claim data exchange information
-HB 7093 related to open government sunset review of domestic security oversight council         
-HB 7111 related to open government sunset review of information held by guardians ad litem 
-HB 7117 related to open government sunset review of board of funeral, cemetery, & consumer services            
-HB 7167 related to open government sunset review of commission for independent education 
-HB 7237 related to postsecondary education

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