Statutes of Limitations for Sex Crimes: Here’s What You Need to Know : When a sex crime is committed, it’s essential to act fast. When a crime has taken place, there is a time frame that exists in which to charge the person responsible. This time frame is known as the criminal statutes of limitations.
There’s no denying that sex crimes have become widespread in mainstream media, and continue to do so as survivors of sex crimes bravely come forward with their stories.
However, if you’re a survivor of a sex crime, or know someone that is if you want to come forward and seek justice, then you need to understand how the statutes of limitations for sex crimes works, which is precisely what we’re going to talk about today.
What is a Criminal Statute of Limitations?
The easiest way to think of a statute of limitation is as a timer. When the timer runs out, the perpetrator of a crime cannot be prosecuted for the crime. This may seem unfair, but in many cases, it’s to protect people from being falsely accused and charged with crimes, and because witness testimonies can lose reliability over time.
Now, the time limit you get on the statute of limitations can vary on a number of factors, including the state the crime occurred in, the situation that happened, and the type of crime that has been committed. Depending on each state, there are some general questions that are asked, including;
- What situation triggers a statute of limitation?
- Can a statute of limitation be paused?
- What factors keep the limitation running, such as victims having children, or having the ability to process the event and come forward to report the crime?
All these questions need to be considered but don’t worry, this may sound complicated, but this is what you need to know going into this process. A long story short, a statute of limitation will vary depending on the specifics of each individual case.
How are These Statutes Created?
As we said above, the limitation can change depending on a number of variables. For example, in Alaska, there is no limitation for rape cases. Any amount of time can pass before a crime can be reported. However, in Massachusetts, the same type of rape cases has a limitation of 15 years. To discuss your own case, you’ll need to speak with sex crime lawyers who can deal with your case.
Typically speaking, the more severe a case is, the longer the limitation will be to enable people to report it, and the type of crime will differ. For example, if a crime occurred to a child, they may not understand a crime has taken place until many years later, and limitations do allow for this.
There are also other variables, such as asking whether there’s DNA evidence involved. If so, a DNA scan may need to take place through a database which can take time. In this case, and for other similar case-specific exceptions, a limitation can be paused while the process is being carried out.
As you can see, there are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to the statute of limitations of sex crimes, and you’ll need to speak with a lawyer to see what is relevant in your case and how you can proceed. As with most legal cases, the quicker you can take action, the better off you’ll be.
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