The statute of limitations (SOL) governs how long a victim or prosecutor has to file a lawsuit. If you file a lawsuit after the SOL has expired, your case will usually be dismissed. Sexual abuse statutes of limitations differ in Ohio for civil and criminal prosecutions.
It is critical to note that the statute of limitations that applies is usually the one in effect at the time of the abuse. This means that even if the SOL has been extended since the incident, a time-barred claim cannot be renewed.
The civil statute of limitations in Ohio for victims of childhood sexual abuse is 30 years. In comparison, the criminal statute of limitations is 43 years, with an additional five years if DNA is recovered within 25 years.
Minors cannot legally offer informed permission; hence any sexual contact with anyone under the age of 18 in any way, even if they consented, is considered a sexual crime. Under Ohio child molestation laws, this is a felony of the third or fourth degree.
Ohio child sexual abuse laws require a broad list of professionals to report suspected child abuse and neglect (including sexual abuse) to authorities. Attorneys, healthcare experts, psychologists, therapists, counselors, school administrators and teachers, social workers, and clergy are on the list.
Any other individual who suspects or believes that a child has been abused or neglected may also file a report.
Reports must be submitted as soon as possible. It is a misdemeanor to fail to report.
Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse in Ohio
A victim seeks restitution in a civil case (including economic and non-economic damages). You must launch a civil lawsuit against an abuser within the following timeframes:
- Adult sexual assault: two years after the event;
- Child sexual assault: twelve years after the victim turns eighteen.
Suppose a victim’s childhood sexual abuse is fraudulently concealed from them. In that case, the statute of limitations for molestation in Ohio is tolled (or postponed) until the abuse has been detected with proper effort.
If you are sexually abused at work, you may be able to file a sexual harassment lawsuit under federal law. Within 300 days of the harassment or abuse, you must file a complaint (or charge) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate your complaint and decide whether to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
If the EEOC decides not to litigate your matter, it will send you a letter stating that you have the right to sue. You must file a lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the EEOC’s letter granting you the right to sue. If you need assistance with a sexual harassment claim, call an employment lawyer.
Criminal Cases for Sexual Abuse in Ohio
In a criminal case, you must report sexual abuse to law enforcement. A prosecutor may seek criminal charges against your suspected abuser following an inquiry. If the suspect is found guilty of sexual abuse, they may face incarceration and registration as a sex offender.
A prosecutor in Ohio is required by law to pursue criminal charges within the following:
- Adult sexual assault: 20 years after the event,
- Child sexual assault: 12 years after the victim’s eighteenth birthday.
A new law was passed in 2015 that extended the statute of limitations in cases involving DNA evidence. Prosecutors can now charge a defendant within five years of DNA identification, even if the 20-year SOL has expired.
What is a Registered Sexual Offender in Ohio?
A registered sex offender is someone who has been convicted of a sexual offense under federal or Ohio state law.
In many situations, these defendants are obliged to submit personal information, such as their names and residences, to government records, which are then stored in a database known as a sex offender register. Rape, child molestation, harassment, and other forms of sexual assault frequently require a defendant to register their details.
What Criminal Charges in Ohio Can Lead to Registration as a Sex Offender?
If you have committed a sex crime, you may be compelled to register as a sex offender. Sex crimes are among the most serious violations in the criminal justice system, and the punishments can be severe.
Ohio has specific rules defining what crimes constitute sex offenses and the punishments associated with each infraction. Some of the most severe sex offenses include:
- Child pornography
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual assault, and
- Statutory rape
Ohio laws not only require defendants to participate in the registry; federal law can also lead to a defendant becoming a registered sex offender.
Even if a defendant has served their time in jail or on probation, they may still be forced to register as a sex offender if they have demonstrated a propensity to participate in victimizing behavior.
Do Convicted Sex Offenders in Ohio Lose their Rights?
Because many sex offenses are felonies, a conviction will make the person a convicted felon.
As a result of the felony, the defendant may lose some civil rights, such as the right to carry or own a handgun, access to federal student loan programs, restrictions or limitations on driving privileges, or the right to vote.
Registration of a sex offender may also result in restrictions directly related to the nature of the offense, such as:
- Restriction on being in or near school zones;
- Restraining orders (which prohibit being near the victim of the crime); or
- The ability to work in specific locations.
The court would likely limit the defendant’s capacity to connect with children if the offense involved minor children. Therefore occupations that demand contact with minors or dwellings near schools would violate the defendant’s registration.
Why Must Registered Sexual Offenders Register Their Addresses?
The major reason for creating a sex offender registry is to make community members aware of registered offenders in their area or workplace. This is meant to protect the general public.
State registers frequently provide the public with general information regarding registered criminals, such as criminal history, current addresses, and photographs.
The registry may also contain the offender’s present place of employment.
This information is made public after the offender submits their information for the registry.
Can I Get a Job as a Known Sexual Offender in Ohio?
Nothing in the law would prevent registered sex offenders from working. However, if you are a registered sex offender, your sentence may include restrictions that preclude you from some forms of employment.
For example, suppose your sentencing and participation in the register preclude you from being in places near schools, daycares, or even in the presence of minor children.
In that case, that is something a possible employer should consider. Because of the nature of the restrictions on your record, you may be barred from applying for jobs that require you to have direct contact with children.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you face sex crime charges, an Ohio criminal lawyer will assist you in understanding your options. Because time is important, consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can provide you with legal representation and guidance for your case, and can keep you updated if there are any changes to the law.