A statute of limitation (“SOL”) is a legal deadline for pressing criminal charges or filing civil claims. Once an SOL has expired, a claim or charge cannot be brought. The length of time during which different actions can be brought varies from state to state. There is no SOL for certain crimes, so actions can be brought at any time. An SOL for a civil lawsuit about a contract may be different from a lawsuit about a personal injury and both may be of varying durations between different states. SOLs can begin running at different times.
Many SOLs begin to run at the time of an offense. An SOL can be “tolled”, or suspended, and won’t begin running until a triggering event. In cases of childhood sexual abuse, an SOL will often be tolled until a minor turns 18 (i.e. majority tolling). Certain discoveries, such as a realization that a person’s suffering is the result of childhood sexual abuse, can toll an SOL (i.e. discovery tolling). Also, DNA evidence newly connecting a perpetrator to a crime can sometimes be used to prosecute a criminal defendant even after the SOL has already expired.
Some states have passed laws to increase access to justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse by temporarily reviving time-barred civil claims, allowing victims to recover against perpetrators and responsible institutions.
Child Sex Abuse Statutes of Limitation and Related Laws
Current Civil SOL
In Arkansas, the civil SOL for child sex abuse is capped at age 24 (age of majority, 21, plus 3 years). There is also a discovery rule, which allows victims up to 3 years to file a claim after discovering an injury caused by the abuse.
SOL vs. perp: +3 years from majority = Age 24
SOL vs. employer: +3 years from majority = Age 24
Majority Tolling: Age 21
Discovery Tolling: Liberal
Arkansas State Law Provides:
Persons under disabilities at time of accrual of action
(a) If any person entitled to bring any action under any law of this state is under twenty-one (21) years of age or insane at the time of the accrual of the cause of action, that person may bring the action within three (3) years next after attaining full age, or within three (3) years next after the disability is removed.
(b) No person shall avail himself or herself of any disability unless the disability existed at the time the right of action accrued.
(c) When two (2) or more disabilities are existing at the time the right of action or entry accrued, the limitation prescribed shall not attach until all the disabilities are removed.
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-116
Civil actions based on sexual abuse
(a) Notwithstanding any other statute of limitations or any other provision of law that can be construed to reduce the statutory period set forth in this section, any civil action based on sexual abuse which occurred when the injured person was a minor but is not discovered until after the injured person reaches the age of majority shall be brought within three (3) years from the time of discovery of the sexual abuse by the injured party.
Ark Code Ann. 16-56-130(a)
Majority tolling: Yes, to age 21. See, Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-116(a)
Minor” means a person of less than eighteen (18) years of age
A.C.A. § 16-56-130(2)
Discovery, yes, liberal (knowledge + cause)
Time of discovery means when the injured party discovers the effect of the injury or condition attributable to the childhood sexual abuse.
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-130(c)(3)
Current Criminal SOL
In Arkansas, there is no criminal SOL for most felonies. The SOL for any other felony or misdemeanor is capped at age 28 (age of majority, 18, plus 10 years).
As of February 21, 2013, NONE, for most felonies.
SOL vs. perp. (including all crimes pre-2013): +10 years from age of majority= Age 28
SOL vs. employer. (including all crimes pre-2013): +10 years from age of majority = Age 28
Arkansas State Law Provides:
Sexual conduct with a minor; classification
A. A person commits sexual conduct with a minor by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person who is under eighteen years of age.
B. Sexual conduct with a minor who is under fifteen years of age is a class 2 felony and is punishable pursuant to § 13-705. Sexual conduct with a minor who is at least fifteen years of age is a class 6 felony. Sexual conduct with a minor who is at least fifteen years of age is a class 2 felony if the person is or was in a position of trust and the convicted person is not eligible for suspension of sentence, probation, pardon or release from confinement on any basis except as specifically authorized by § 31-233, subsection A or B until the sentence imposed has been served or commuted.
AZ ST § 13-1405
Statute of limitations
(a) A prosecution for murder may be commenced at any time.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a prosecution for another offense shall be commenced within the following periods of limitation after the offense's commission:
(1) (A) Class Y felony or Class A felony, six (6) years.
(B) However, for rape, 5-14-103, the period of limitation is eliminated if biological evidence of the alleged perpetrator is identified that is capable of producing a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) profile;
(h) If the period prescribed in subsection (b) of this section has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for a violation of the following offenses if, when the alleged violation occurred, the offense was committed against a minor, the violation has not previously been reported to a law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney, and the period prescribed in subsection (b) of this section has not expired since the victim has reached eighteen (18) years of age:
(1) Battery in the first degree, 5-13-201;
(2) Battery in the second degree, 5-13-202;
3) Aggravated assault, 5-13-204;
(4) Terroristic threatening in the first degree, 5-13-301;
(5) Kidnapping, 5-11-102;
(6) False imprisonment in the first degree, 5-11-103;
(7) Permanent detention or restraint, 5-11-106;
(8) Rape, 5-14-103;
(9) Sexual assault in the first degree, 5-14-124;
(10) Sexual assault in the second degree, 5-14-125;
(11) Sexual assault in the third degree, 5-14-126;
(12) Sexual assault in the fourth degree, 5-14-127;
(13) Incest, 5-26-202;
(14) Endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, 5-27-205;
(15) Permitting abuse of a minor, 5-27-221;
(16) Engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print medium, 5-27-303;
(17) Transportation of minors for prohibited sexual conduct, 5-27-305;
(18) Employing or consenting to the use of a child in a sexual performance, 5-27-402;
(19) Producing, directing, or promoting a sexual performance by a child, 5-27-403;
(20) Computer child pornography, 5-27-603;
(21) Computer exploitation of a child in the first degree, 5-27-605; and
(22) Criminal attempt, criminal solicitation, or criminal conspiracy to commit any offense listed in this subsection, 5-3-201, 5-3-202, 5-3-301, and 5-3-401.
(j) If there is biological evidence connecting a person with the commission of an offense and that person's identity is unknown, the prosecution is commenced if an indictment or information is filed against the unknown person and the indictment contains the genetic information of the unknown person and the genetic information is accepted to be likely to be applicable only to the unknown person.
Ark.Code.Ann. § 5-1-109
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See Ark. Code Ann. § 9-25-101.
Age of Consent: 16. See Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-127.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: with proof of pregnancy, 16 for females and 17 for males; without proof of pregnancy, with judicial consent.
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18. See Ark. Code Ann. §§ 9-11-102, 9-11-103.
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
(b)(1)(B) For Rape (§ 5-14-103), the period of limitation eliminated if biological evidence of the alleged perpetrator is identified that is capable of producing a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) profile.
(i) If there is biological evidence connecting a person with the commission of an offense and that person's identity is unknown, the prosecution is commenced if an indictment or information is filed against the unknown person and the indictment contains the genetic information of the unknown person and the genetic information is accepted to be likely to be applicable only to the unknown person.
(j) When DNA testing implicates a person previously identified through a search of state or national DNA database, a statute of limitations shall not preclude prosecution.
Ark. Code § 5-1-109
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
A child cannot be considered neglected or abused solely because he or she is being provided spiritual treatment in accordance with the practices of a recognized church by an accredited practitioner.
Arkansas Civil Statute:
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to mean a child is neglected or abused for the sole reason he or she is being provided treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof in lieu of medical or surgical treatment. . . .
Arkansas Code §9-30-103(5)B
Religious bias prohibited The Department of Human Services and the Department of Arkansas State Police shall investigate all allegations of child maltreatment without regard to the parent’s practice of his or her religious beliefs and shall only consider whether the acts or omissions of the parent constitute child maltreatment under this chapter.
Arkansas Code §12-18-618
Upon completion of an investigation under this chapter, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Arkansas State Police shall determine whether the allegations of child maltreatment are [unsubstantiated, true, or inactive]:
2(C) A determination of true but exempted, which means that the offender’s name shall not be placed in the Child Maltreatment Central Registry, shall be entered if:
(i) A parent practicing his or her religious beliefs does not, for that reason alone, provide medical treatment for a child, but in lieu of treatment the child is being furnished with treatment by spiritual means alone, through prayer, in accordance with a recognized religious method of healing by an accredited practitioner
Arkansas Code §12-18-702 (2)C(i)
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
Parents cannot be held liable for capital murder of their child if they provided spiritual treatment in accordance with the practices of an established church to which they are members.
Arkansas Criminal Statute:
ARKANSAS defense to capital murder
It shall be an affirmative defense to any prosecution for capital murder arising from the failure of the parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis to provide specified medical or surgical treatment, that the parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis relied solely on spiritual treatment through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of an established church or religious denomination of which he is a member.
Arkansas Code §5-10-101(a)(9)(B)
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
2015 Passed Bills State of Arkansas As Engrossed: H2/11/15 S2/26/15 S3/16/15 S3/26/15 90th General Assembly A Bill Regular Session, 2015 HOUSE BILL 1228
By: Representatives Ballinger, Beck, Bentley, House, Speaks, Harris, Rushing, Womack, Vaught, Gonzales, Tosh, Copeland, C. Fite, Gates, Lundstrum, Payton, B. Smith, Brown, Cozart, Farrer, Lowery, Sullivan, Richmond, J. Mayberry, Dotson, M. Gray, D. Meeks, Miller, Drown By: Senator Hester
For An Act To Be Entitled AN ACT TO ENACT THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT TO BE KNOWN AS MARY’S LAW; TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR RELIGIOUS PRACTICE AND TO PROVIDE REMEDIES AND PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING OR ABUSING RELIGIOUS PROTECTIONS; TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Read More Subtitle TO ENACT THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS:
SECTION 1. DO NOT CODIFY. Legislative findings. The General Assembly finds that it is a compelling governmental interest to comply with federal civil rights laws.
SECTION 2. Arkansas Code Title 16, Chapter 123, is amended to add an additional subchapter to read as follows:
Subchapter 4 — Religious Freedom Restoration Act
16-123-401. Title. This subchapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”. 16-123-402. Legislative intent. It is the intent of the General Assembly to: (1) Ensure that in all cases in which state action substantially burdens the exercise of religion strict scrutiny is applied; (2) Provide a claim or defense to a person whose exercise of religion is substantially burdened by state action; and (3) Implement Article 2, § 24, of the Arkansas Constitution, which states that “[N]o human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience”.
16-123-403. Legislative findings. The General Assembly finds that: (1) The Arkansas Constitution recognizes the free exercise of religion; (2) Laws neutral toward religion have the same potential to burden religious exercise as laws purposely intended to interfere with religious exercise; (3) Governments should not substantially burden the free exercise of religion without compelling justification; (4) In Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), the United States Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement that the government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws neutral toward religion; (5) In response, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C., § 2000bb, to restore the compelling interest test set forth in the federal cases of Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963); (6) The compelling interest test is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing government interests; (7) In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997), the United States Supreme Court held that the protections of religious exercise afforded by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, only applied to religious exercise burdened by federal law or agencies and provided no protection from burdens on religious exercise from state or local law or governments; (8) To provide the same level of protection from burdens on religious exercise from state or local governments, a state must enact an equivalent to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, that was passed by Congress; and (9) Since the 1997 Supreme Court decision in City of Boerne v. Flores, many states have enacted statutes similar to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, including: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
16-123-404. Definitions. As used in this subchapter: (1) “Compelling governmental interest” means a governmental interest of the highest magnitude that cannot otherwise be achieved without burdening the exercise of religion; (2) “Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion including without limitation the ability to act or refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief; (3) “Government entity” means: (A) A branch, department, agency, board, commission, or other instrumentality of: (i) State government; or (ii) A political subdivision of the state, including without limitation a city or county; or (B) An official or other person acting under color of state law; (4) “Person” means an individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious institution, estate, trust, foundation, or other legal entity; (5) “Prevails” means to obtain prevailing party status as defined by courts construing the federal Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Awards Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 1988; (6) “State action” means the implementation or application of any law, including without limitation state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations, and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, or other action by the state or any political subdivision thereof and any local government, municipality, instrumentality, or public official authorized by law in the state; and (7)(A) “Substantial burden” means to prevent, inhibit, or curtail religiously-motivated practice consistent with a sincerely held religious belief. (B) “Substantial burden” includes without limitation withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.
16-123-405. Religious freedom preserved. A state action shall not substantially burden a person’s right to exercise of religion, even if the substantial burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the substantial burden to the person’s exercise of religion in this particular instance: (1) Is essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and (2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
16-123-406. Construction and applicability. This subchapter does not: (1) Authorize a government entity to substantially burden a religious belief; (2) Affect, interpret, or in any way address those portions of this subchapter, Article 2, §§ 24-26, of the Arkansas Constitution, or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that prohibit laws respecting the establishment of religion; (3) Prohibit a grant of government funds, benefits, or exemptions to the extent permissible under those portions of this subchapter, Article 2, §§ 24-26, of the Arkansas Constitution, or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that prohibit laws respecting the establishment of religion; or (4) Create a right or cause of action with respect to an employee against an employer if the employer is not a government entity.
16-123-407. Remedies and penalties. (a) Regardless of whether the state or one of its political subdivisions is a party to the proceeding, a person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, in violation of § 16-123-405, may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding. (b)(1) A person asserting a claim or defense under this subchapter may obtain appropriate relief, including relief against the state or a political subdivision of the state when the state or the political subdivision of the state is a party to the proceedings. (2) Appropriate relief under this subsection includes without limitation: (A) Injunctive relief; (B) Declaratory relief; (C) Compensatory damages; and (D) Costs and attorney’s fees.
16-123-408. Exemptions. The Department of Correction, the Department of Community Correction, a county jail, and a detention facility are exempt from this subchapter.
SECTION 3. EMERGENCY CLAUSE. It is found and determined by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas that there is not a higher protection offered by the state than the protection of a person’s right to religious freedom; and that this act is immediately necessary because every day that a person’s right to religious freedom is threatened is a day that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is compromised. Therefore, an emergency is declared to exist, and this act being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, and safety shall become effective on: (1) The date of its approval by the Governor; (2) If the bill is neither approved nor vetoed by the Governor, the expiration of the period of time during which the Governor may veto the bill; or (3) If the bill is vetoed by the Governor and the veto is overridden, the date the last house overrides the veto.
Arkansas-2015-HB1228-Draft SB 202 (Act 137) • Makes technical and conforming changes.
The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.