A statute of limitations (SOL) sets the amount of time a victim or prosecutor has to file a lawsuit. Typically, if you file a lawsuit after the SOL expires, your case will be dismissed. Alaska has different criminal and civil sexual abuse statutes of limitations.
Typically, the statute of limitations that applies is the one that existed at the time of the abuse. This means that even though the SOL may have been lengthened since the incident, it may not renew time-barred cases.
Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse
In a civil lawsuit, a victim of sexual abuse demands compensation and damages from his or her abuser. You may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages, including compensation for your pain and suffering.
The Alaska civil statute of limitations varies dramatically, depending on the age of the victim and the severity of the abuse. The childhood sex abuse SOL’s include:
- Cases involving felony sex abuse of a minor or unlawful exploitation: no SOL, and
- Cases involving misdemeanor sex abuse of a minor or incest: three years from the victim’s 18th birthday or three years from when the crime or injury could have been reasonably discovered.
In adult civil claims, the statutes of limitations include:
- Cases involving felony sexual assault: no SOL, and
- Cases involving felony indecent exposure: three years from the event,
- Cases involving misdemeanor sexual assault: three years from the act.
Even though Alaska has lengthy civil statutes of limitations for many sex-related claims, you should not postpone filing. Cases can become increasingly difficult to prove over time. If you need help calculating the SOL in your case, contact a personal injury lawyer.
If sexual abuse occurs at your workplace, you may also have a sexual harassment lawsuit under federal law. You must file a complaint (or charge) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the sexual abuse or harassment. The EEOC will investigate your claim and determine whether it will pursue a lawsuit on your behalf. If it decides not to litigate your claim, it will issue a Right to Sue letter. You must file a lawsuit within 90 days of the EEOC’s Right to Sue letter.
Criminal Cases for Sexual Abuse
Criminal cases are filed by the State of Alaska on behalf of a victim. In order to file criminal charges, you must notify law enforcement of the sexual abuse. The authorities will investigate your claims and a prosecutor may file charges against your abuser. If a suspect is found guilty of criminal conduct, he or she may be sentenced to significant jail time and sex offender registration.
In Alaska, the criminal statute of limitations varies, depending on the severity of the offense. They include:
- Sexual assault or sexual abuse of a minor (including child pornography charges): no SOL
- Sexual offense against an unaware or incapacitated victim: within ten years of the act, and
- Other sex crimes: five years from the act.
Again, it is important to report criminal sexual abuse as quickly as possible. A prompt investigation may preserve important evidence that leads to a conviction. If you have questions about the SOL in your criminal case, contact law enforcement immediately.
Other Compensation for Sex Abuse Victims
Alaska’s Violent Crimes Compensation Board helps pay for victims’ crime-related medical treatment, lost wages, and other expenses. To receive victim’s compensation, victims must report the crime to law enforcement within five days and apply for benefits within two years of the act.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
It may be in your best interest to contact a lawyer. Sexual assault and abuse claims are emotionally difficult. They also involve detailed legal analysis and strict procedural rules. A personal injury lawyer can guide you through the process, educate you about your rights, and offer much-needed emotional support. You should also file criminal charges with a law enforcement agency.
If you are facing sexual abuse charges and prosecution, a criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your rights. Time is of the essence, so talk to an attorney as soon as possible.