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Cruise Ship Sexual Assault & Rape
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- Discrepancy in Cruise Ship Crime Reporting
At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our lawyers put compassion and excellence in our representation of every client. That begins with making sure our clients understand their case and what is going on around them.
Cruise Lawyers Who Explain the Law
Laws regarding sexual assault aboard a vessel can be quite complex. Since the assault can occur on the high seas, the governing law can be unclear. If you have suffered an assault on a cruise ship or other vessel, you should review the facts of your case with a competent cruise ship lawyer who has extensive experience with at-sea sexual assault incidents. Our attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can provide a no-cost initial consultation. The sooner you seek legal counsel, the better.
In addition to statutory law, cases with binding authority, called “precedent,” establish some of the rules of law in this area. A few important statutes and precedents are set forth below.
Jurisdiction: The Ability to Hear a Case
Cases involving jurisdiction give a court the authority to render a decision in a case. It means the court has a sufficient connection to the case to issue a binding order on the parties. Below are a few laws and cases governing jurisdictional issues:
- State of Florida v. Matthew Stepansky, 761 So. 2d. 1027 (S. Ct. 2000): The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a state has the ability to try certain crimes which are committed on the high seas, though not directly committed in Florida.
- Florida Statute Title XLVII, Chapter 910.006: Provides Florida law enforcement officials special maritime jurisdiction in certain crimes where:
- the suspect aboard the ship is from Florida or a state with an agreement with Florida;
- the victim is a Florida law enforcement officer aboard the ship in their official capacity;
- the victim is a resident of Florida and the “act or omission is one of violence, detention, or depredation generally recognized as criminal”;
- more than 50 percent of the ship passengers embarked from a Florida port and will ultimately disembark in Florida;
- where an element of the act or omission is an attempt or conspiracy to cause a substantial effect in Florida; or,
- where the state may apply criminal law under international law or treaty.
- Title 18 United States Code, Chapter 7: Provides for special maritime jurisdiction when an offense is committed by or against a U.S. citizen in a place outside the jurisdiction of any nation. This also covers foreign vessels that have a United States arrival or departure port.
Strict Liability Responsibility of Cruise Lines
In some cases, there is no need to prove an element of culpability, or intent to do wrong, on the part of one of the parties. A plaintiff need only demonstrate that the action occurred in order to prove the defendant guilty.
- Naddeau v. Costley and Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., 634 So. 2d 649 (Fla. App. 4th DCA 1994): The Florida District Court of Appeals found a cruise line strictly liable for a sexual assault committed by a crew member against a passenger. Strict liability removes the requirement to prove fault, such as negligence or intent, and only requires the plaintiff to prove that the tortious conduct occurred. This is a significant development for cruise ship assault victims.
Statutory Rape Aboard Cruise Ships
Statutory rape consists of any sexual acts conducted with a minor child under 16 years of age. At this age, the child is considered legally incapable of providing consent and the act is classified as a strict liability criminal act.
Our firm is located in Florida and serves an international clientele from countries in North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australai, and Asia. We have the ability to handle matters worldwide and assist clients who speak any language. Cruise line rape, harassment and assault occur frequently. We can help. Contact one of our cruise ship attorneys today for a free consultation.