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. Maryland has different criminal and civil sexual abuse statutes of limitations.
Depending on the timing of your abuse, different statutes of limitations may also apply. Maryland law assigns different filing deadlines to adult and child sexual abuse cases. Additionally, the statute of limitations that applies is the one that existed at the time of your abuse. This means that even though the SOL may have been lengthened since the incident, it typically will 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.
In Maryland, a civil sexual abuse case must be filed within:
- In childhood sexual abuse cases, seven years from the victim’s 18th birthday, and
- Three years from the event for adult cases.
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 Maryland 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 Maryland, the criminal statute of limitations varies depending on the severity of the offense. The criminal statutes of limitations include:
- Felony sexual offenses: no statute of limitations, and
- Misdemeanor offenses: one year from the event.
If you need help determining the correct statute of limitations in your case, contact law enforcement immediately.
Other Compensation for Sex Abuse Victims
The State of Maryland’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Board pays up to $45,000 to crime victims to offset crime-related medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. However, unless you have good cause, you must meet the Board’s reporting and filing deadlines. You must report the crime to law enforcement within 72 hours of the act. Adult victims must apply for benefits within three years and minor victims must apply before their 25th birthday.
Do I Need 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 litigation process, educate you about your rights, and offer emotional support. You should also file criminal charges with a law enforcement agency. If you are facing sexual abuse charges and prosecution, a criminal lawyer can help you understand your rights. Time is of the essence, so talk to an attorney near you as soon as possible.