Statute of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Abuse in Georgia

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 What Are the Georgia Statutes of Limitations for Sexual Abuse?

Statute of limitations is a legal term used to describe state statutes that specify the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a civil lawsuit or the amount of time to file a criminal complaint against a defendant.

The statute of limitations limits the plaintiff by establishing a deadline for filing their lawsuit; if enough time has passed, the plaintiff or criminal prosecutor is barred from bringing their case against the defendant.

The deadline for filing a lawsuit varies on the suit filed and the state statutes where the plaintiff is filing the lawsuit.

One purpose of the statute of limitations is to protect defendants from untimely litigation. The statute of limitations allows plaintiffs to pursue valid claims against defendants, but only when the plaintiffs exercise due diligence in timely filing the claims.

There are three main reasons why the Georgia sexual abuse laws enact statutes of limitations:

  1. The statute forces a plaintiff with a valid cause of action to bring the claim timely;
  2. Bringing a claim untimely may result in the loss of evidence by a defendant necessary to defend themselves against the claim; and
  3. Litigation of a long-dormant claim may result in more cruelty than justice.

The United States Supreme Court has often indicated that the standard rule is that the statute of limitations begins to run “when the plaintiff has a complete and present cause of action.” The statute of limitations typically begins when the plaintiff discovers the injury, such as in fraud cases or when the harmful event occurs.

If a lawsuit commences after the statute of limitations, the claim will likely be thrown out of court with a motion from the defendant. However, in some cases, the clock may have been paused for a period of time; this is known as “tolling the limitations.”

For instance, in criminal cases where the defendant commits a crime and flees, which results in them becoming a fugitive of the state, the state will stop the statute of limitations for the time that the fugitive was on the run.

This means that the prosecutor will be able to bring the criminal charges forward once the fugitive is caught, not counting the time spent on the run. Additionally, in cases where the plaintiff is a minor, meaning they were under the age of 18, many states allow the tolling of the statute until the plaintiff reaches the majority age of 18.

A statute of limitations is a statute, meaning it is a state law. This means that the statute of limitations is usually found in the state statute for the claim you seek to file, and these can be easily found online.

The statute may also define when the statute of limitations begins running, which is useful in calculating whether the statute of limitation has indeed run or if you still have time to file a claim due to the tolling of the statute.

Georgia sexual abuse laws have different sexual abuse statutes of limitations for civil and criminal cases.

In a civil lawsuit, a victim demands compensation, including economic and non-economic damages. Under Georgia sexual abuse laws, you must file a civil lawsuit against an abuser within:

  • Adult sexual assault: two years from the event,
  • Child sexual assault: on or before your 53rd birthday.

Until 2015, the child sexual assault statute of limitations under Georgia sexual abuse laws ended on the victim’s 23rd birthday.

Notably, the 2015 law also allows previously time-barred claims to be filed. However, you must file your previously time-barred child sexual assault civil claim between 7/1/2015 and 7/1/2017.

Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse

While 180 days is the general rule, state laws may override the EEOC’s rule and extend the statute of limitations on sexual harassment to 300 days from the last incident of harassment.

In Georgia, the statute of limitations on rape is 15 years, and charges may be filed at any time after a DNA match.

Criminal Cases for Sexual Abuse

The State of Georgia files criminal sexual abuse charges in Georgia on behalf of a victim. A guilty verdict for sexual abuse charges in Georgia may result in the abuser’s incarceration and sex offender registration.

Under Georgia law, a prosecutor must file criminal charges within:

  • Aggravated sexual battery: no statute of limitations,
  • Charges where DNA is used to identify the perpetrator: no statute of limitations,
  • Adult felony sexual assault: four years from the event,
  • Rape of an adult: 15 years from the event,
  • Child sexual assault occurring on or before 7/1/2012: no statute of limitations,
  • Child sexual assault occurring before 7/1/2012: seven years from the victim’s 16th birthday or report to authorities (whichever is earlier).

Although Georgia offers extended statutes of limitations for many sex offenses, you should report these crimes as soon as possible. Over time, memories fade, and evidence disappears. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to build a strong case against your abuser.

What Should I Do if I Need to File a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse in Georgia?

If you need assistance with a sexual assault lawsuit, contact a lawyer immediately for assistance. Failure to act quickly may result in the dismissal of your claim.

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 180 days of the 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 prosecute your claim, it will issue a Right to Sue letter. Within 90 days of the EEOC’s Right to Sue letter, you must file a lawsuit.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Statutory Rape in Georgia?

In Georgia, serious violent crimes for which a life sentence can be imposed generally must be prosecuted within seven years. Rape is an exception, though, where the State has 15 years to bring charges. However, the law currently provides no statute of limitations on statutory rape in cases where DNA is used to identify the accused.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Sexual abuse cases can be emotionally charged and often involve strict procedural requirements and filing deadlines. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you should contact law enforcement and a personal injury lawyer. They will help you understand your rights, guide you through the investigation and litigation processes, and provide emotional support.

If you have been (or expect to be) charged with a sexual offense, a criminal lawyer can help you understand your rights. Time is of the essence, so talk to a Georgia criminal attorney as soon as possible.

It is essential to have the assistance of an experienced criminal law attorney for any sexual assault issues. Attorneys for sexual abuse cases can help both a victim and an accused individual.

If you were a victim of sexual assault, you should report it to law enforcement immediately. You should also contact an attorney regarding the possibility of a civil lawsuit. You can prevail in a civil suit even if there is not enough evidence for a criminal conviction.

If you are accused of sexual assault, your first step should be to contact an attorney. In these cases, the consequences of a conviction can be extreme and may affect all aspects of your life, even future employment. You may also be required to register as a sex offender. An attorney can review your case, advise you of your rights, and represent you during any court proceedings.

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