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. Minnesota has different criminal and civil sexual abuse statutes of limitations.
Depending on the timing of your abuse, different statutes of limitations may apply. Minnesota law assigns very 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.
In a civil lawsuit, a victim of sexual abuse demands compensation and damages from his or her abuser. You may also have a vicarious liability claim against an organization (like a church or school) that failed to protect you from abuse. Compensation may include both economic damages and compensation for your pain and suffering.
In Minnesota, a civil sexual abuse case must be filed within:
- Childhood sexual abuse (if under 24 years old on or after 5/23/2013): no statute of limitation,
- Adult sexual abuse: six years, and
- Vicarious liability of an organization (such as a church or school): before the victim’s 24th birthday.
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 are filed by the State of Minnesota 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 Minnesota, the criminal statute of limitations varies depending on the severity of the offense and the type of evidence involved. The criminal statutes of limitations include:
- If DNA evidence was collected in a 1st through 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct case: no statute of limitations,
- 1st through 4th degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor: nine years from the act or within three years of being reported to law enforcement,
- 5th degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor: three years,
- 1st through 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct: nine years,
- 4th and 5th degree criminal sexual conduct: three years
If you need help determining the correct statute of limitations in your case, contact law enforcement immediately.
If you suffered physical or psychological injuries due to sex abuse, you may receive financial assistance from the Minnesota Crime Reparations Board. The Board helps victims pay for crime-related medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. However, to be eligible, you must report the crime to law enforcement within 30 days of the incident. Applications for benefits must be filed within three years of the crime.
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 emotional support. You also should 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 as soon as possible.