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Statute of Limitations on Sexual Assault Claims by State

In most U.S. states, the statute of limitations on felony sexual assault charges is typically from 3 to 10 years. However, several states have no statute of limitations regarding these crimes.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault refers to any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without consent from the victim. Types of sexual assault include attempted rape, fondling, or unwanted sexual touching. Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator's body, is also considered sexual assault.

What Counts as Evidence in a Sexual Assault Case?

Evidence typically used in sexual assault cases includes biological evidence (e.g., semen), fingerprints, impression evidence (e.g., shoeprints), and trace evidence (e.g., hairs/fibers).

Related Article: Indecent Exposure Definition

Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations by State

State Sexual Assault/Rape Statute of Limitations Time Limit Tolling/Extension in Child Sex Abuse Case
Alabama Ala. Code § 6-2-38 Two years from the date of incident No special extension
Alaska Alaska Stat. § 09-10-065 Three years from the date of incident for:

  • Misdemeanor sexual abuse of a minor
  • Misdemeanor sexual assault
  • Incest
  • Felony indecent exposure
Yes, action may be brought at any time for violations of the following offenses:

  • Felony sexual abuse of a minor
  • Felony sexual assault
  • Unlawful exploitation of a minor
  • Felony sex trafficking
Arizona A.R.S. § 12- 542(1) Two years from the date of incident in most cases; no time limit for violent sexual abuse Yes, within two years of the victim's 18th birthday, or no limit if assault happened before victim was 15 years old
Arkansas Ark. Code § 16-56-130(a) Three years from the date of incident Yes, extended to three years from the moment of discovery if person was under 18 years of age at time of sexual abuse
California Ca. Civ. Proc. Code § 335.1 Ten years from the date of incident, or three years from date when the victim knew or should have known of the sexual abuse/assault Yes, extended by Assembly Bill 218. Must file a lawsuit by age 40 or within five years of discovering the abuse as an adult
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-5-401 Three years from the date of incident Yes, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-5-401, if the victim was under the age of 18, they have 20 years after turning 18 to file charges
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577e No time limit Yes, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577d. No later than 30 years from the date the person attains the age of majority
Delaware Del. Code tit. 10, § 8119 Two years from the date of incident Yes, Del. Code tit. 10 § 8145. No time limit for child sex abuse claims
District of Columbia D.C. Code § 12-301(11) Three years from when the victim knew or should have known of the sexual abuse/assault Yes, within seven years of the minor's 18th birthday or within three years of when the victim knew or should have known, whichever comes first
Florida Fla. Stat. § 95.11(7), (9) Within seven years after the age of majority, within four years after the person leaves the dependency of the abuser, or within four years from the time of discovery, whichever occurs later Yes, no time limit for Sexual Battery Offenses on Victims under age 16
Georgia O.C.G.A. § 9-3- 33.1(b) Two years from the date of incident Yes, within five years of the date the person attains the age of majority. If victim is 65 years of age of older, time limit doesn't begin to run until the violation is reported to or discovered by a law enforcement agency, prosecuting attorney, or other governmental agency, whichever occurs earlier
Hawaii Haw. Rev. Stat. § 707-730-33 No time limit Yes, no time limit for childhood sexual abuse. Can be brought at any time
Idaho Idaho Code § 6-1704(1) Two years from the date of incident Yes, suit may be brought within five years of the victim reaching the age of majority
Illinois Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 735, § 13--202, § 13—202.2(b) Typically two years from the date of incident, otherwise no statute of limitations if civil suit is based upon Class X felony Yes, actions for damages based on childhood sexual abuse may be commenced at any time
Indiana Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4(1) Two years from the date of incident Yes, case stemming from childhood sex abuse must be brought within seven years from the date of incident or within four years from when the minor is no longer a dependant of the person alleged perpetrator
Iowa Iowa Code §669.13, §614.8A Two years from the date of incident Yes, within four years of the date of discovery. Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist or school employee must be brought within five years of the date the person was last treated by the counselor or therapist; or within five years of the date the victim was last enrolled or attended the school
Kansas Kan. Stat. § 60-523 Two years from the date of incident Yes, victims of child sex abuse have three years from the age of 18, or three years from the date the victim realizes they have suffered an injury or illness caused by sexual abuse
Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.249, §413.140(1)(a) One year from the date of incident Yes, within five years of the commission of the act or the last of a series of acts by the same perpetrator; · Within 5 years of the date of discovery; or within 5 years after the victim attains the age of 18 years
Louisiana Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2800.9(A), Civ. Code §3492 No limit for first or second degree rape; six years for third degree rape Yes, lawsuits can be brought until the victim turns 48 (30 years after their 18th birthday)
Maine Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C, Maine Civil Statute of Limitations Two years from the date of incident Yes, lawsuits for sex acts against minors can be brought at any time
Maryland Md. Cts. and Jud. Proc. § 5-117, Maryland Civil Statute of Limitations Three years from the date of incident Yes, within seven years of the date the victim attains the age of majority
Massachusetts General Laws of Massachusetts Part III, Title V, 260-4C, Massachusetts Civil Statute of Limitations Three years from the date of incident Yes, must bring lawsuit within 35 years of the acts alleged to have caused an injury or condition or within 7 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 is later. The statute is tolled until the minor turns 18 years old, however
Michigan MCL 600.5805 Two years from the date of incident No special tolling provision for minors
Minnesota Minn. Stat. § 541.073 Six years of the time the victim knew or had reason to know that the injury was caused by sexual abuse Yes, if the victim is a minor, the six year limitations begin to run one year after the plaintiff reaches 18 and would terminate at age 25
Mississippi Miss. Code Ann. §15-1-49, § 15-1-59 Three years from date of incident Yes, within three years of attaining the age of majority
Missouri Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.046, Missouri Civil Statute of Limitations Five years from date of incident Yes, childhood sexual abuse that occurred when the person was under 18 years of age, must bring a lawsuit within 10 years of the person attaining the age of 21; or within three years of the date of discovery, whichever occurs later
Montana Mont. Code § 45-5-502; Mont. Code §45-5-625 Ten years from the date of incident, depending on the act Yes, no limit for children victims. Can be commenced at any time
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-208 Four years from the date of incident Yes, victims of child sex abuse can file within four years of reaching age 21 years old
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 11.215, Nevada Civil Statute of Limitations Two years from the date of incident Yes, child sex abuse actions must be commenced within 10 years after the person either reaches 18 years of age or discovers the causal connection of the injury
New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. § 508:4-9, New Hampshire Civil Statute of Limitations Three years from date of incident Yes, either within 12 years of the person's 18th birthday; or 3 years of the time of discovery
New Jersey N.J. Stat. § 2A:61B-1, New Jersey Civil Statute of Limitations No limit for victims of sexual assault; can bring suit at any time Yes, no limit for victims of sexual assault; can bring suit at any time
New Mexico N.M. Code § 37-1-30 Three years from date of incident Yes, lawsuit must be brought either by the first instant of the person's 24th birthday; or three years from the discovery, whichever comes first
New York N.Y. Penal Law § 130 No time limit for rape, within 20 years if second-degree rape, 10 years if third-degree rape, within two years if sexual misconduct Yes, statute of limitations does not run until the victim has reached age 23 or the incident is reported to a law enforcement agency
North Carolina N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.21 No time limit Yes, no time limit for sexual abuse against a minor under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.16
North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-25.1 Two years of date of incident Yes, 10 years of when the victim knew or reasonably should have known that a potential claim exists resulting from alleged childhood sexual abuse
Ohio ORC Ann. § 2305.111(c) Two years of date of incident Yes, 12 years from the date of the minor's 18th birthday
Oklahoma Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § 95 Two years from the date of incident or from discovery of incident Yes, tolled until minor reaches 18 years old or until 5 years after the perpetrator is released from the custody of a state, federal or local correctional facility or jail, whichever is later
Oregon ORS § 124.005 Two years from the date of incident Yes, lawsuit must be brought before the person attains 40 years of age; or not more than 5 years from the date the person discovers the causal connection between the child abuse and the injury, whichever period is longer
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Code 42 Pa. CSA 5533(b)(2),Pennsylvania Civil Statute of Limitations Two years from the date of incident Yes, 12 years from the date of a victim reaches the age of majority
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws § 9- 1-51 Three years from the date of incident Yes, within seven years of the alleged act; or within seven years of the time of discovery
South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-555 Three years from date of incident Yes, within six years after the person reaches 21 years old or three years from the time the victim realizes that their injuries are caused by child sexual abuse
South Dakota S.D. Codified Laws § 26-10-25, South Carolina Civil Statute of Limitations Three years of date of incident Yes, within three years of the alleged act; or three years of the time of discovery
Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104, 28-1-106 One year of date of incident Statute is tolled until minor turns 18 years old, but must be brought within one year of that date
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Title 2B Typically two to five years, but see statute to learn more Yes, statute of limitations does not begin to run until 18th birthday of victim
Utah Utah Code Ann. § 78B-2-308, Utah Civil Statute of Limitations Four years from date of incident Yes, victim of child sex abuse may file action at any time
Vermont Vt. Stat. Ann tit. 13 § 3252, 5253(a) No time limit Yes, victim of child abuse may file action at any time
Virginia Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-243 Two years from the date of incident Yes, the statute of limitations is tolled until minor turns 18 years old. Then it is two years from the date of incident
Washington Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.340 Three years from the date of incident or time of discovery Yes, statute of limitations is tolled until minor becomes 18 years old and then it becomes within three years of the alleged act; within three years of the time discovery that injury was caused by said act; or within three years of the time of discovery that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought
West Virginia W.Va. Code § 55-2-15 Two years from the date of the incident Yes, two years from the date of the minor turning 18 years old
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. § 893.587, Wisconsin Civil Statute of Limitations Two years of the date of the incident Yes, must be filed before the victim's 35th birthday
Wyoming Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-105 Four years from the date of the incident Yes, eight years after victim's 18th birthday or three years after the time of discovery

How Do You Defend Sexual Assault Allegations?

The most basic defense in a sexual assault case is a claim of actual innocence. A defendant may argue that they could not have committed the crime because they were in a different location at the time the alleged crime took place.

How Can You Tell if Someone is Lying About Being Assaulted?

Many allegations of sexual abuse are true and accurate, but not all. Some common signs that a person is lying include:

  • The person does not answer a question right away but pauses or delays their answer as they try to think about what to say.
  • The person looks away and will not make eye contact.
  • The person instinctively touches their mouth while speaking.
  • The person swallows or clears their throat when answering a question.

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