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Victim of Sexual Assault Lawyer

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Are You A Victim of Sexual Assault?

Sexual abuse is any act by which the perpetrator uses sexual contact in an impermissible way. Sexual abuse can occur against both adults and children.

Examples of Sexual Abuse

  • Children:
    • Statutory rape (sex with an underage minor)
    • Molestation
    • Incest (sex with a relative)
    • Sexual exploitation
  • Adults:
    • Rape, including date rape and elder rape
    • Unwanted sexual touching

Criminal vs. Civil Court

  • Criminal Sexual Abuse - a person is prosecuted by the district attorney's office for committing sexual abuse against a victim. If you are facing criminal charges, you are in criminal court and need a criminal defense lawyer.
  • Civil Sexual Abuse - involves the victim suing the person who committed the sexual abuse against them to recover damages for their injuries. If you want to sue someone for your sexual abuse injuries, or are being sued by the victim for money, you are in civil court and need an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Recovering Damages as a Victim of Sexual Abuse

Victims of sexual abuse often have a difficult time recovering for their losses. Most sexual abuse incidents involve individual abusers who do not have insurance or sufficient assets to pay for the victim's injuries. There are exemptions, such as when the abuser was a member of an organization (e.g. a church), or a person with a duty to report the abuse but failed to do so (e.g. a doctor).

If the person who committed the sexual abuse against you does have the ability to pay if you win a lawsuit against them, you may be able to recover for your damages, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

Are There Differences Between States in How Long a Victim Has to File a Case or Press Charges?

One major difference between states is how long victims may have to report criminal acts, or to file civil lawsuits against their abusers.  This may be a certain period of time from when the crime occurs, when the crime is reported, or when the crime is later discovered. If a victim waits too long to come forward, they may lose the ability to bring a claim or seek punishment.

In most states, the statute of limitations does not begin until after the victim reaches the age of majority (normally over 18). Many states have exceptions for later “discovery” of sexual abuse through repressed memories or other means. A number of states have also made exception to their statutes DNA evidence that, using new technology, may finally identify an assailant or prove a claim of abuse.

For example: In Connecticut, a victim of childhood sexual abuse has 30 years after the age of majority (age 18) to contact police and press charges against their abuser. That victim may also file a civil lawsuit against their abuser in the same time frame. In Wisconsin, on the other hand, there is no limit on how long a childhood sexual abuse victim has to press charges. In that state, however, the victim may only file a civil lawsuit within 2 years after they turn 18.

Where Can I Find the Statute of Limitations For My State?

Below is a table of the statute of limitations in all states for certain common sex abuse crimes. The table also lists the statute of limitations for filing civil suit specifically for Sexual Abuse of a Minor. This is not a full list of all criminal sex offenses or possible civil suits in each state. In addition, it is possible that an abuser could be guilty of more than one sex crime arising out of the same incident. Please note that the numbers are subject to change and/or certain exceptions. Please consult an attorney in your state for the most accurate information.

 
STATE
Statutory Rape of Minor aged 15*
Incest with Minor
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Minor
Civil Suit
Notes
Alabama
no limit
no limit
no limit
2 yrs.
 
Alaska
no limit
no limit
no limit
no limit
 
­Arkansas
no limit
no limit
no limit
2 yrs., or until 20
 
Arizona
until victim is 28
no limit
no limit
3 yrs.*
*after discovery
California
3 yrs.
10 yrs.
until victim is 40
until age 26
Colorado
no limit
no limit
no limit
6 yrs. after victim is 18
 
Connecticut
30 yrs. after victim is 18
30 yrs. after victim is 18
30 yrs. after victim is 18
30 yrs. after victim is 18
Can also file 5 yrs. after reported
Delaware
no limit*
no limit
no limit*
no limit
*limit for cases of repressed memory
D.C.
15 yrs. after victim is 21
10 yrs. after victim is 21
if felony, within 6 yrs.
3 yrs. after victim is 18
 
Florida
3 yrs. after victim is 18
3 yrs. after victim is 18
4 yrs. after victim is 18*
7 yrs. after victim is 18
*if 1st degree felony. Limits vary.  
Georgia
no limit*
no limit*
no limit*
5 yrs. after victim is 18
*if crime occurred after July 30, 2012
Hawaii
no limit
3 yrs.
no limit
2 yrs. after victim is 18
 
Idaho
no limit
5 yrs.
no limit
5 yrs. after victim is 18
 
Illinois
20 yrs. after victim is 18
3 yrs.
20 yrs. after victim is 18
10 yrs. after discovery
Indiana
5 yrs.
n/a
5 yrs. to no limit until victim is 31*
2 yrs. after discovery, but before victim is 31
*limit varies greatly on details of crime
Iowa
10 yrs. after victim is 18
10 yrs. after victim is 18
10 yrs. after victim is 18
4 yrs. after discovery
 
Kansas
5 yrs. if voluntary
10 yrs. after victim is 18
10 yrs. after victim is 18
3 yrs. after victim is 18
 
Kentucky
no limit
no limit
no limit
5 yrs. after victim is 18
 
Louisiana
30 yrs. after victim is 18
30 yrs. after victim is 18
30 yrs. after victim is 18
1 year after discovery
 
Maine
no limit
no limit
no limit
no limit
 
Maryland
no limit
no limit
no limit
7 yrs. after victim is 18
 
Massachusetts
no limit*
10 yrs.
no limit*
3 yrs. after victim is 18
complaints brought more than 27 yrs. after crime need independent evidence
Michigan
10 yrs. or after victim is 21*
6 yrs. – no limit
in many cases, no limit
2-5 yrs.**
* whichever is later
**no special statute for child victims
Minnesota
9 yrs. after offense*
3 yrs.
9 yrs. after offense*
6 yrs. after victim is 18
* or three yrs. after report, whichever is later
Mississippi
 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 07-11-2018 08:56 PM PDT

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