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. Georgia has different sexual abuse statutes of limitations for civil and criminal cases.
In a civil lawsuit, a victim demands compensation (including economic damages and non-economic damages. 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 ended on the victim’s 23rd birthday.
Importantly, 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. 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 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 sexual abuse cases are filed by the State of Georgia on behalf of a victim. A guilty verdict 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.
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 both 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 an Georgia criminal attorney as soon as possible.