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Child Molestation Statute of Limitations Listed by States

Statutes of limitations for child molestation vary by jurisdiction and can depend on factors such as the severity of the offense and the age of the victim at the time of the abuse. In many places, the statutes of limitations for child molestation have been extended or eliminated due to the recognition of the long-lasting impact of such abuse. Some jurisdictions have also implemented “discovery rules,” which toll the statute of limitations until the victim becomes aware of the abuse or its connection to their harm.
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What is Child Molestation?

According to Justia, child molestation is a very serious sex crime that can expose a defendant to extended jail time and a lifetime of stigma. The Department of Justice defines child molestation as contacts or interactions such as inappropriate physical contact between a child and adult where the child is used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator [1].

Law enforcement treats allegations of child molestation with utmost seriousness, yet they demand meticulous handling. This is because the justice system must delicately navigate between safeguarding children and ensuring justice for those falsely accused.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

As stated by Investopedia, a statute of limitations is a law that defines the maximum amount of time in which parties involved in a dispute must initiate legal proceedings following an alleged offense. The duration of a statute of limitations varies depending on the nature of the offense and the location of the jurisdiction [2].

Applicable to both civil and criminal cases, the statute of limitations ensures the timely pursuit of legal remedies. While severe crimes like murder or war crimes may have no limitation period, it also extends to civil matters such as consumer debt. In cases of consumer debt, for instance, the debt may become time-barred after the statute of limitations expires.

Also Read: Molestation vs Sexual Abuse

Child Molestation Statute of Limitations by State

State or Territory 

 

Civil Statutes Related to Child Sexual Abuse 
Alabama   Ala. Code § 6-2-38 

Alabama has no statute of limitations specific to child sexual abuse. The Alabama Supreme Court has not adopted a discovery rule or any provision for repressed memory claims. Claims must be brought within two years of the date of the injury.  

Alaska   AS § 09-10-065 and § 09-10-140 

Alaska has no statute of limitations for felony sexual abuse. Under AS § 09-10-065, a person may bring an action at any time for felony sexual abuse of a minor or felony sexual assault.  

Alaska also has a delayed discovery, or realization, statute. Under AS § 09-10-140, discovery is defined as when “the plaintiff discovered or through use of reasonable diligence should have discovered that the act caused the injury or condition.”  

American Samoa   43.0126 

Minors must bring claims of any kind, including child sexual abuse, within one year of reaching the age of majority.   

Arizona   A.R.S. § 12-514 

A person may bring action based on childhood sexual abuse within 12 years after they reach the age of majority. In certain cases, Arizona has applied its statutory minority and disability (A.R.S. § 12-502) tolling provisions to the general tort statute (A.R.S. § 12-542) of limitations. To toll a statute of limitations means to suspend or delay the start of a statute. 

Arkansas   Ark. Stat. Ann. § 16-56-130(a) 

Civil claims must be filed within three years of the discovery of childhood sexual abuse.  

California   Ca. Civ. Proc. Code § 340.1 

Actions must commence within 22 years of the plaintiff’s 18th birthday or within five years of discovery, whichever date ends later.    

Colorado   Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-80-103.7 

Any civil action based on sexual misconduct may commence at any time without limitation. This applies to causes of action accruing on or after Jan. 1, 2022. It also applies to causes of action accruing before Jan. 1, 2022, if the applicable statute of limitations, as it existed before that date, has not yet expired.  

Connecticut   Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577d 

Action must be taken within 30 years from the date the victim reached the age of 21.  

Delaware   Del. Code tit. 10 § 8145 

Claims may be brought any time after the act or acts that constituted sexual abuse of a minor by an adult.  

District of Columbia   D.C. Code § 12-301 

If sexual abuse occurred when the victim was younger than 35, claims must be brought by the time the victim turns 40 or five years from “when the victim knew, or reasonably should have known” of sexual abuse. The later date applies.  

Florida   Fla. Stat. § 95.11(7) 

Claims founded on alleged abuse or incest may be commenced at any time within seven years after the age of majority. Claims may also be commenced within four years after the injured person leaves the dependency of the abuser or within four 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.   

Sexual battery offenses on victims under age 16 may be brought forth at any time. However, this does not apply to actions that would have been time barred on or before July 1, 2010.  

Georgia   Ga. Code § 9-3-33.1 

Any civil action for recovery of damages suffered because of childhood sexual abuse committed on or after July 1, 2015, must be commenced on or before the victim is age 23 or within two years from when the victim “knew or had reason to know of such abuse and that such abuse resulted in injury.”  

Guam   Guam Code Ann § 11301.1 

Claims arising from child sexual abuse may be commenced at any time.   

Hawaii   Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8 

Claims arising from sexual abuse of a minor must be brought within eight years after the 18th birthday of the minor or eight years after the perpetrator attains the age of majority. Claims may also be brought three years after the minor discovers or should have discovered that injury occurring after the minor’s 18th birthday was caused by the sexual abuse. The later date applies.   

Idaho   Idaho Code § 6-1704 

Suits may be brought within five years of the victim reaching the age of majority or five years after the victim discovers or reasonably discovers the acts and its relationship to injury. The statute is only applicable to cases arising after July 1, 1989.  

Illinois   735 ILCS 5/13-202.2 

An action based on childhood sexual abuse may be commenced at any time if the action would not have been time barred under the statute of limitations or statute of repose before Jan. 1, 2014.  

Indiana   Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4, § 34-11-6-1 and § 34-11-2-16 

General statute of limitations requires that action for injuries to the person must be filed within two years of the time when the cause of action accrues. Actions for injuries that result from sexual abuse of a child must be commenced within seven years after the action occurred or four years after the person ceased to be a dependent of the alleged perpetrator. Any person who is under a legal disability when the cause of action occurs may bring the action within two years after the disability is removed. An action for female genital mutilation must commence no later than 10 years after the victim’s 18th birthday.  

Iowa   Iowa Code § 614.8A 

In instances in which an injured party, who has reached the age of majority, discovers injury because of childhood sexual abuse, an action for damages shall commence within four years from the time the injured party discovers both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the sexual abuse.  

Kansas   Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-523 

No action for recovery of damages suffered because of childhood sexual abuse shall be commenced more than 13 years after the victim attains 18 years of age or more than three years after the date of a criminal conviction for the crime, whichever occurs later.   

Kentucky   Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.249 

Civil actions for sexual abuse may be brought within 10 years of the last act of abuse, within 10 years of the date of the victim’s discovery of the abuse, within 10 years after the victim reaches the age of 18 or within 10 years of the conviction of a civil defendant for an offense included in the definition of childhood sexual assault or abuse.  

 Louisiana   La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.9 

An action against a person for sexual or physical abuse of a minor or for physical abuse of a minor resulting in permanent impairment or permanent physical injury or scarring may be filed at any time. An action against a person convicted of a crime against the child may be filed at any time following conviction.  

Maine   Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C 

Civil actions for sexual acts toward minors may be commenced at any time. This applies to all actions of sexual acts toward minors regardless of the date of the sexual act and regardless of whether the statute of limitations on such actions expired prior to the effective date of the statute.  

Maryland   Md. Cts. and Jud. Proc. § 5-117 

An action for damages arising out of an alleged incident or incidents of child sexual abuse may occur any time before the victim reaches the age of majority, 20 years after the victim reaches the age of majority or three years after the date the defendant is convicted of a crime related to the alleged incident.  

Massachusetts   Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, § 4C  

Actions of tort alleging the defendant sexually abused a minor shall be commenced within 35 years of the acts alleged to have caused an injury or condition or within seven years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that an emotional or psychological injury or condition was caused by said act, whichever period expires later. The time limit for commencement of an action under this section is suspended until the child reaches 18 years of age.  

Michigan   M.C.L.A. 600.5805 

The period of limitations is 10 years for an action to recover damages sustained because of criminal sexual conduct.  

Minnesota   Minn. Stat. Ann. § 541.073 

An action for damages based on sexual abuse must be commenced within six years of the alleged sexual abuse in the case of alleged sexual abuse of an individual 18 years or older. The action may be commenced at any time in the case of alleged sexual abuse of an individual under the age of 18, but actions must be commenced before the plaintiff is 24 years of age in a claim against a natural person alleged to have sexually abused a minor when that natural person was under 14 years of age.  

Mississippi   Miss. Code Ann. §§ 15-1-49 and 15-1-59 

Victims must file their claims within three years of the act constituting sexual abuse under § 15-1-49. The person may bring the action within three years of removal of disability of infancy or unsoundness of mind under § 15-1-59.   

Missouri   Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.046 

Civil claims must be filed either within 10 years of the time the victim reaches age 21 or within three years from the date the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered that physical or psychological injury was caused by abuse. This applies to any action commenced on or after Aug, 28, 2004, including any action which would have been barred by the application of the statute of limitation applicable prior to that date.  

Montana   Mont. Code § 27-2-216 

An action based on intentional conduct brought by a person for recovery of damages for injury suffered because of childhood sexual abuse against the individual who committed the acts must be commenced before the victim reaches 27 years of age or no later than three years after the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the injury was caused by the act of childhood sexual abuse.   

A claim for damages that would otherwise be barred because the statute of limitations expired may be commenced within one year of May 7, 2019, if the individual who committed childhood sexual abuse is alive at the time the action proceeds or is commenced and has admitted to the commission of the act.  

Nebraska   Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-228 

Nebraska has no time limitation for an action against the individual(s) directly causing an injury or injuries suffered by a plaintiff who was a victim of sexual assault of a child if the assault occurred on or after Aug. 24, 2017, or before August 24, 2017, if such action was not previously time barred. Otherwise, the action must be brought within 12 years of the plaintiff’s 21st birthday.  

Nevada   Nev. Rev. Stat. § 11.215 

An action to recover damages for an injury to a person arising from the sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of the plaintiff which occurred when the plaintiff was less than 18 years of age may be commenced any time after it occurred.  

New Hampshire  

 

N.H. Rev. Stat. § 508:4-g 

A person alleging to have been subjected to any sexual assault or incest may commence a personal action at any time.  

New Jersey  

 

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-2a 

Every action for an injury resulting from the commission of sexual assault, any other crime of a sexual nature or sexual abuse against a minor under the age of 18 that occurred prior to, on or after Dec. 1, 2019, must be commenced within 37 years after the minor reaches the age of majority. Actions may also be commenced within seven years from the date of reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act.   

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:61B-1  

Any civil action for injury or illness based on sexual abuse against a minor under 18 years of age must accrue at the time of reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act of sexual abuse.  

New Mexico   N.M. Code § 37-1-30 

An action for damages based on personal injury caused by childhood sexual abuse must be commenced by the victim’s 21st birthday or three years from the date that a person first disclosed the childhood sexual abuse to a licensed medical or mental health care provider in the context of receiving care.  

New York   N.Y. Civil Prac. Law § 215 

When it is shown that a criminal action against the same defendant has been commenced with response to the same event or occurrence, including rape and sexual conduct against a child in the first degree, the plaintiff must file a claim within five years from the termination of the criminal action.  

North Carolina  

 

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-17(d) 

A plaintiff may file a civil action against a defendant for claims related to sexual abuse suffered while the plaintiff was under 18 years of age until the plaintiff reaches 28 years of age. A plaintiff may also file a civil action within two years of the date of a criminal conviction for a related felony sexual offense against a defendant for claims related to sexual abuse suffered while the plaintiff was under 18 years of age.  

North Dakota  

 

N.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-25.1 

A claim for relief resulting from childhood sexual abuse must be commenced within 21 years after a potential claim resulting from alleged childhood sexual abuse accrued. The time period does not begin to run until the plaintiff has reached age 15.   

Northern Mariana Islands    TIT. 7 N.M.I. § 2515 

Any claim arising from an incident of child abuse may be commenced at any time.   

Ohio  

 

Ohio Code § 2305.111(c) 

An action for childhood sexual abuse must be brought within 12 years of when the victim reaches the age of majority. If the abuse was fraudulently concealed from the victim, the running of the limitations period is delayed until the time the victim discovers or should have discovered the act.  

Oklahoma   Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § 95(6) 

An action brought for recovery of damages for injury suffered because of childhood sexual abuse or exploitation or incest against the perpetrator must be commenced before the victim’s 45th birthday.  

Oregon  

 

Or. Rev. Stat. § 12.117 

An action based on child abuse or conduct knowingly allowing, permitting or encouraging child abuse must be commenced before the victim’s 40th birthday. If the person has not discovered or reasonably should not have discovered the causal connection between the injury and the child abuse, the action must be brought not more than five years from the date of discovery or when the victim reasonably should have discovered it, whichever period is longer.  

Pennsylvania  

 

Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 42 § 5533(b) 

If an individual entitled to bring a cause of action arising from sexual abuse is under 18 years of age, the action must be brought within 37 years after attaining the age of 18. If the individual is at least 18 but less than 24 years of age, the individual has until they attain the age of 30 to bring the action. The statute of limitations does not accrue during the time in which an individual is an unemancipated minor.  

Puerto Rico   P.R. Laws Ann. Tit. 31 § 5298 and Ann. Tit. 32 § 254(1) 

Claims must be brought within one year of the event or one year after the victim reaches the age of majority.   

Rhode Island  

 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-51 

All causes of action brought against a perpetrator of sexual abuse, or against a non-perpetrator whose negligent supervision of a person or whose conduct contributed to the sexual abuse, shall be commenced within the later of 35 years of the act or seven years from the time the victim discovered the injury or condition or should have reasonably discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the abuse. The time limit for such an action shall be suspended for a child until they reach 18 years of age.  

South Carolina   S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-555 

A civil action to recover damages for injury arising out of sexual abuse or invest must be commenced within six years after the person becomes 21 years old or within three years from the time of discovery of the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the sexual abuse or incest.  

South Dakota  

 

S.D. Codified Laws § 26-10-25 

A civil action for injury suffered because of childhood sexual abuse must begin within three years of the act or three years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the abuse. No person who has reached 40 years of age may recover damages from any person or entity other than the perpetrator.   

Tennessee  

 

Tenn. Code 28-3-116 

A civil action for an injury or illness based on child sexual abuse that occurred when the injured person was a minor must be brought within three years from the time of discovery for abuse that occurred before July 1, 2019. For abuse that occurred on or after July 1, 2019, the action must be brought within the later of 15 years after the person becomes 18 or within three years from the time of discovery of the abuse.  

Texas   Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.0045 

A victim must bring suit for personal injury arising out of sexual assault or abuse of a child not later than 30 years after the day the cause of action accrues.  

Utah  

 

Utah Code § 78B-2-308 

A victim may file a civil action against a perpetrator for intentional or negligent sexual abuse suffered as a child at any time. A victim may file a civil action against a non-perpetrator within four years after the individual attains the age of 18 years. If the victim discovers sexual abuse after age 18, the victim may file a claim within four years after the discovery of the abuse.   

A civil action against an individual for sexual abuse that was time barred as of July 1, 2016, may be brought within 35 years of the victim’s 18th birthday or within three years of the effective date of the statute, whichever is longer.  

Vermont  

 

 

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 522 

A civil action for recovery of damages for injury suffered because of child sexual or physical abuse may be commenced at any time after the act. This retroactively applies to any sexual abuse or physical abuse that occurred prior to July 1, 2019, irrespective of any statute of limitations.   

Virgin Islands   V.I. Code Ann. Tit. 5, § 31(5) and § 36 

Actions must be brought within two years after the victim reaches age 21.  

Virginia  

 

Va. Code § 8.01-243 

Action for injury resulting from sexual abuse occurring during infancy or incapacity must be brought within 20 years after the cause of action occurs.   

Washington   Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.340 

Claims of action shall be commenced within three years of the act alleged to have caused the injury or condition or within three years of when the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury was caused by the act. The time limit for commencement of an action is suspended until a child reaches age 18.   

West Virginia   W. Va. Code § 55-2-15 

Action for sexual assault of a minor against a perpetrator or someone who aided, abetted or concealed the abuse must be brought within 18 years of reaching the age of majority or within four years after discovery of the sexual assault or abuse, whichever is longer.   

Wisconsin   Wis. Stat. § 893.587 

Actions for childhood sexual assault must be brought before the injured party reaches the age of 35.  

Wyoming   Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-105 

Action for childhood sexual abuse may be brought up to eight years after the victim’s 18th birthday or up to three years after the time of discovery.  

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) [3].

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References:

1. https://www.justia.com/criminal/offenses/sex-crimes/child-molestation/
2. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/statute-of-limitations.asp
3. https://www.ncsl.org/human-services/state-civil-statutes-of-limitations-in-child-sexual-abuse-cases

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