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 Hawaii, the civil SOL is up to age 26 (age of majority, 18, plus 8 years) and there is a 3-year discovery rule. In 2018, Hawaii reopened a window that had previously been closed in 2016. The window allows victims of child sex abuse whose cases were time-barred to bring civil lawsuits against perpetrators and entities. The window is open until April 24, 2020.
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Liberal (+3 years)
SOL: 4 year window currently open 2016-2020; +8 years from majority or + 3 years from liberal discovery
Hawaii State Law Provides:
Relating To Sexual Violence.
(a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, except as provided under subsection (b), no action for recovery of damages based on physical, psychological, or other injury or condition suffered by a minor arising from the sexual abuse of the minor by any person shall be commenced against the person who committed the act of sexual abuse more than:
(1) Eight years after the eighteenth birthday of the minor or the person who committed the act of sexual abuse attains the age of majority, whichever occurs later; or
(2) Three years after the date the minor discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the minor's eighteenth birthday was caused by the sexual abuse,
whichever comes later.
A civil cause of action for the sexual abuse of a minor shall be based upon sexual acts that constituted or would have constituted a criminal offense under part V or VI of chapter 707.
(b) For a period of eight years after April 24, 2012, a victim of child sexual abuse that occurred in this State may file a claim in a circuit court of this State against the person who committed the act of sexual abuse if the victim is barred from filing a claim against the victim’s abuser due to the expiration of the applicable civil statute of limitations that was in effect prior to April 24, 2012.
A claim may also be brought under this subsection against a legal entity if:
(1) The person who committed the act of sexual abuse against the victim was employed by an institution, agency, firm, business, corporation, or other public or private legal entity that owed a duty of care to the victim; or
(2) The person who committed the act of sexual abuse and the victim were engaged in an activity over which the legal entity had a degree of responsibility or control.
Damages against the legal entity shall be awarded under this subsection only if there is a finding of gross negligence on the part of the legal entity.
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8 (2018)
Majority, yes. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8(a).
Discovery, yes, liberal.
. . . date the minor discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the minor’s eighteenth birthday was caused by the sexual abuse
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8(2)
Holding that issue of when plaintiff discovered or reasonably should have discovered psychological injury and that injury was caused by C.S.A. was fact question for jury, because total repression of memory of abuse not always necessary to avail oneself of delayed discovery
> > Dunlea v. Dappen> > , 924 P.2d 196, 201-02 (Haw. 1996)
Current Criminal SOL
None for sexual assault in the first and second degrees, and continuous sexual assault of a minor under Age 14
As of June 20, 2014, NONE, for sexual assault in the first and second degrees, and continuous sexual assault of a minor under Age 14.
SOL vs. perp. (Class A felonies): + 6 years from majority = Age 24
SOL vs. perp. (All other felonies): + 3 years from majority = Age 21
Hawaii State Law Provides:
Chapter 707: Offenses Against the Person, Part V. Sexual Offenses
(a) A prosecution for . . . sexual assault in the first and second degrees and continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of fourteen years may be commenced at any time.
(b) A prosecution for a class A felony must be commenced within six years after it is committed
(c) The period of limitation does not run: . . . For any felony offense under chapter 707, part V or VI, during any time when the victim is alive and under eighteen years of age.
(d) A prosecution for any other felony must be commenced within three years after it is committed
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 701-108(1)
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 577-1.
Age of Consent: 16. See Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 707-730.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 (15 with judicial consent).
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See Hawaii Rev. Stat. §§ 572-1, 572-2. See, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.0405.
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is no religious exemption to civil liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith.
Hawaii Civil Statute:
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is no religious exemption to criminal liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith.
Hawaii Criminal Statute:
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
(3) If the period prescribed in subsection (2) has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for: (c) Any felony offense involving evidence containing deoxyribonucleic acid from the offender, if a test confirming the presence of deoxyribonucleic acid is performed prior to expiration of the period of limitation prescribed in subsection (2), but in no case shall this provision extend the period of limitation by more than ten years from the expiration of the period of limitation prescribed in subsection (2).
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 701-108(1)
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
2015 Pending RFRA Legislation
A BILL FOR AN ACT
relating to religious rights.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The purpose of this Act is to ensure that strict scrutiny is applied in all cases where state action burdens the exercise of religion and to provide a claim or defense to a person whose exercise of religion is burdened by state action.
SECTION 2. Chapter 7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
“§7- Exercise of religion; protected. (a) State action shall not burden any person’s right to exercise religion; provided that a burden shall be permissible if the burden results from a law or rule of general applicability and the burden to the person’s exercise of religion:
(1) Is essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
(b) A person whose exercise of religion has been burdened, or is likely to be burdened, in violation of subsection (a) may assert a violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, regardless of whether the State or a county is a party to the proceeding. A person prevailing on a claim or defense under this section may obtain appropriate relief, including injunctive relief, declaratory relief, compensatory damages, costs, and attorney fees against the acting State or county.
(c) As used in the section:
“Burden” means any action that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails, or denies the exercise of religion by any person or compels any action contrary to a person’s exercise of religion, including withholding benefits, assessing criminal penalties, assessing civil penalties, assessing administrative penalties, exclusion from governmental programs, and exclusion of access to governmental facilities.
“Compelling governmental interest” means a governmental interest of the highest magnitude that cannot otherwise be achieved without burdening the exercise of religion.
“Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
“State action” means the implementation or application of any law or other action by the State or any county.”
SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.
SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
View as PDF: H.B. 1160
Previously Introduced Legislation
2013-2014: HB 1196
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.