New York’s Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Crimes

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 Are There Statutes of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Crimes in New York?

A statute of limitations provides a time frame in which an individual or prosecutor has to file a legal claim or press charges against an individual whom they believe has wronged them or is guilty of committing a criminal offense. There are different statutes of limitations in civil and criminal cases, and they may vary based on the specific cause of action or offense as well as the state in which the case is filed.

In the State of New York, there are two separate statutes of limitations for sexual abuse crimes, one for civil lawsuits and another for criminal cases. The statute of limitations in a civil sexual abuse case will determine the amount of time that a victim of sexual abuse has to file a civil lawsuit against the abuser.

Even though civil lawsuits will not result in punishments such as prison or restitution, it will allow the victim of abuse to recover damages from their abuser in order to compensate them for the harm they suffered due to their abuser’s actions. The statute of limitations for criminal cases provides the period of time in which a prosecutor can file criminal charges against an alleged sexual abuser.

The rape statute of limitations may vary depending on the specific offense that was committed. For example, the statute of limitations for statutory rape in New York is twenty years for second-degree rape and ten years for third-degree rape.

An alleged abuser may be charged with second or third-degree rape in New York if the victim was unable to provide consent because of their age or incapacity. This means that the prosecution will have twenty years to bring charges against a defendant who allegedly committed second-degree rape.

Or, the prosecution will have ten years to bring charges against a defendant who allegedly committed third-degree rape. It is important to note that there is not a statute of limitations in the State of New York for the crime of rape in the first degree or for predatory sexual assault against a child.

An individual may want to learn more about the applicable laws and timing requirements for filing civil lawsuits for sexual abuse claims. If so, they should consult with a New York lawyer as soon as possible. An individual could want to press charges against their sexual abuser. If they do, they should consult with their local law enforcement office, which will forward the case to the nearest district attorney’s office in the county where they reside in New York State to determine if they can file charges against their abuser.

Civil Statutes of Limitations on Sexual Abuse

In 2019, the state legislature of New York passed a law called the Child Victims Act (CVA). This law extended the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits that involve claims of sexual abuse, such as child molestation or forcible touching.

This law also provided a one-year window for adult victims to file similar claims. The CVA has been extended two times since it was passed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the court shutdowns that occurred in New York.

The CVA expired in August of 2021, which left no way for a victim of previously time-barred crimes to take advantage of the opportunity to sue their abuser. The state recognized the importance of this issue, and the Senate proposed a bill known as the Adults Survivors Act.

The Adult Survivors Act would allow adult victims of sexual abuse to bring a claim within a one-year window, similar to the one provided in the CVA. This one-year lookback window that allowed survivors to bring civil actions closed on November 23, 2023.

Currently, sexual abuse victims who are 55 years old or younger can still file a civil lawsuit for damages against their sexual abuser in New York State. However, victims who are older than 55 years of age will be barred from filing a civil lawsuit against their abuser at this time and until a new law is passed.

Criminal Statutes of Limitations on Sexual Abuse

The State of New York assigns time limits that correspond with the degree of sexual abuse that was committed, for example, twenty years for a second-degree rape conviction. Under the CVA, a sexual abuse victim can request that a prosecutor from the New York District Attorney’s office file felony charges against an abuser on their behalf until they reach the age of 28.

For misdemeanor sexual abuse crimes, a victim will have until they reach the age of 25 to request that a prosecutor file charges. The only exception in New York is if the victim of sexual abuse was younger than 11 years of age when the abuse occurred.

In that case, there is no statute of limitations for the victim to bring charges against their abuser. In other words, the victim will have an unlimited amount of time to file a sexual abuse claim in a New York criminal court.

The process for filing a sexual abuse claim in criminal court will require the victim of sexual abuse to report the offense to law enforcement. Their claim will be evaluated and sent to the New York District Attorney’s Office.

A prosecutor, or district attorney, will be assigned to the case. They will review the law enforcement report that is received as well as any evidence that was submitted by the victim or by law enforcement.

Once the file is analyzed, the prosecutor will decide whether or not to press charges against the alleged sexual abuser. The prosecutor might decide to file charges against an alleged sexual abuser. In that case, the defendant will have to appear in criminal court and proceed to trial unless they are given the option of a plea deal.

In some cases, there may not be enough evidence to prosecute the alleged sexual abuser. In these cases, charges will not be filed, and they will not face criminal penalties.

What Is the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA)?

New York State, similar to other states, requires defendants who are convicted of sex offenses and other predatory offenses to register with the state and with law enforcement when they reside in the area. The period of registration is at least 20 years.

Individuals who are considered to be high-risk will be required to register for life. In addition to yearly registration, an offender is required to:

  • Inform authorities of any changes;
  • Submit updated photographs; and
  • Provide information about their Internet accounts in addition to their screen names.

If an individual fails to register, they may face a Class D or E felony conviction.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you are facing any type of sexual abuse charges in the State of New York, it is essential to consult with a New York criminal lawyer. Your lawyer will review your case, determine if any defenses are available, and represent you throughout the criminal case process.

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, your attorney can advise you whether you can press charges or file a civil lawsuit for damages. Your lawyer will be able to inform you of your rights as a victim and help protect your rights throughout the process.


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