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 Illinois, there is no civil SOL for child sex abuse claims.
As of January 2017, NONE for felonies, following the Dennis Hastert scandal.
Illinois State Law Provides:
Childhood sexual abuse
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action for damages for personal injury based on childhood sexualabuse must be commenced within 20 years of the date the limitation period begins to run under subsection (d) or within20 years of the date the person abused discovers or through the use of reasonable diligence should discover both (i) thatthe act of childhood sexual abuse occurred and (ii) that the injury was caused by the childhood sexual abuse. The fact thatthe person abused discovers or through the use of reasonable diligence should discover that the act of childhood sexualabuse occurred is not, by itself, sufficient to start the discovery period under this subsection (b). Knowledge of the abusedoes not constitute discovery of the injury or the causal relationship between any later- discovered injury and the abuse.
(c) If the injury is caused by 2 or more acts of childhood sexual abuse that are part of a continuing series of acts ofchildhood sexual abuse by the same abuser, then the discovery period under subsection (b) shall be computed from thedate the person abused discovers or through the use of reasonable diligence should discover both (i) that the last actof childhood sexual abuse in the continuing series occurred and (ii) that the injury was caused by any act of childhoodsexual abuse in the continuing series. The fact that the person abused discovers or through the use of reasonable diligenceshould discover that the last act of childhood sexual abuse in the continuing series occurred is not, by itself, sufficient tostart the discovery period under subsection (b). Knowledge of the abuse does not constitute discovery of the injury orthe causal relationship between any later-discovered injury and the abuse.
(d) The limitation periods under subsection (b) do not begin to run before the person abused attains the age of 18 years;and, if at the time the person abused attains the age of 18 years he or she is under other legal disability, the limitationperiods under subsection (b) do not begin to run until the removal of the disability.
(d-1) The limitation periods in subsection (b) do not run during a time period when the person abused is subject to threats,intimidation, manipulation, or fraud perpetrated by the abuser or by any person acting in the interest of the abuser.
(e) This Section applies to actions pending on the effective date of this amendatory Act of 1990 as well as to actionscommenced on or after that date. The changes made by this amendatory Act of 1993 shall apply only to actionscommenced on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of 1993. The changes made by this amendatory Act ofthe 93rd General Assembly apply to actions pending on the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 93rd GeneralAssembly as well as actions commenced on or after that date. The changes made by this amendatory Act of the 96thGeneral Assembly apply to actions commenced on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 96th GeneralAssembly if the action would not have been time barred under any statute of limitations or statute of repose prior to theeffective date of this amendatory Act of the 96th General Assembly.
(f) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action for damages based on childhood sexual abuse may becommenced at any time; provided, however, that the changes made by this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assemblyapply to actions commenced on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly if theaction would not have been time barred under any statute of limitations or statute of repose prior to the effective dateof this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly.
IL ST CH 735 § 5/13-202.2
Current Criminal SOL
In Illinois, there is no criminal SOL for felony child sex abuse claims. For misdemeanors, the SOL is capped at age 28 (age of majority, 18, plus ten years).
As of January 2014, NONE: some crimes eliminated prospectively as of January 2014; all others as of August 2017.
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Liberal
Illinois State Law Provides:
§ 3-6. Extended limitations. The period within which a prosecution must be commenced under the provisions of Section3-5 or other applicable statute is extended under the following conditions:
(b) A prosecution for any offense based upon misconduct in office by a public officer or employee may be commencedwithin one year after discovery of the offense by a person having a legal duty to report such offense, or in the absence ofsuch discovery, within one year after the proper prosecuting officer becomes aware of the offense. However, in no suchcase is the period of limitation so extended more than 3 years beyond the expiration of the period otherwise applicable.
(b-5) When the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, a prosecution for involuntary servitude,involuntary sexual servitude of a minor, or trafficking in persons and related offenses under Section 10-9 of this Codemay be commenced within 25 years of the victim attaining the age of 18 years.
(d) A prosecution for child pornography, aggravated child pornography, indecent solicitation of a child, soliciting fora juvenile prostitute, juvenile pimping, exploitation of a child, or promoting juvenile prostitution except for keeping aplace of juvenile prostitution may be commenced within one year of the victim attaining the age of 18 years. However,in no such case shall the time period for prosecution expire sooner than 3 years after the commission of the offense.
(e) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (j), a prosecution for any offense involving sexual conduct or sexualpenetration, as defined in Section 11-0.1 of this Code, where the defendant was within a professional or fiduciaryrelationship or a purported professional or fiduciary relationship with the victim at the time of the commission of theoffense may be commenced within one year after the discovery of the offense by the victim.
(j)(1) When the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, a prosecution for criminal sexual assault,aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, orfelony criminal sexual abuse may be commenced at any time.
(2) When the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, a prosecution for failure of a person who is requiredto report an alleged or suspected commission of criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatorycriminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or felony criminal sexual abuse under the Abusedand Neglected Child Reporting Act may be commenced within 20 years after the child victim attains 18 years of age.
(3) When the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, a prosecution for misdemeanor criminal sexualabuse may be commenced within 10 years after the child victim attains 18 years of age.
(4) Nothing in this subdivision (j) shall be construed to shorten a period within which a prosecution must be commencedunder any other provision of this Section.
IL ST CH 720 § 5/3-6
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/11-1.
Age of Consent: 16. See 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 11/6.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 with parental or judicial consent.
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See 750 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/203.
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
A child shall not be considered neglected solely because their parents, in good faith, choose to treat them with spiritual treatment alone.
Illinois Cibil Statute:
A child shall not be considered neglected for the sole reason that the child’s parent or other person respon¬si¬ble for his or her welfare depends upon spiritual means through prayer alone for the treatment or cure of disease or remedial care as provided under Section 4 of this Act.
Illinois Consolidated Statutes, Chapter 325 §5/3 (in definitions)
A child whose parent, guardian or custodian in good faith selects and depends upon spiritual means through prayer alone for the treatment or cure of disease or remedial care may be considered neglected or abused, but not for the sole reason that his parent, guardian or custodian accepts and practices such beliefs.
Illinois Consolidated Statutes, Chapter 325 §5/4 (in reporting law)
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is no religious exemption to criminal liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith.
Illinois Criminal Statute:
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
(b) For the purposes of this Section: “Completion of the analysis of the submitted evidence” means analysis of the collected evidence and conducting of laboratory tests and the comparison of the collected evidence with the genetic marker grouping analysis information maintained by the Department of State Police under Section 5-4-3 of the Unified Code of Corrections and with the information contained in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National DNA database.
720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/3-7
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
Current Law: § 775 ILCS 35/1-99 (1998)
Enacted: July 1, 1998
§ 775 ILCS 35/1. SHORT TITLE Sec. 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
§ 775 ILCS 35/5. DEFINITIONS Sec. 5. Definitions. In this Act:”Demonstrates” means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.“Exercise of religion” means an act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief, whether or not the religious exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.“Government” includes a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, and official (or other person acting under color of law) of the State of Illinois or a political subdivision of the State, including a home rule unit. Read More § 775 ILCS 35/10. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES Sec. 10. Findings and purposes. (a) The General Assembly finds the following:
(1) The free exercise of religion is an inherent, fundamental, and inalienable right secured by Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois.
(2) Laws “neutral” toward religion, as well as laws intended to interfere with the exercise of religion, may burden the exercise of religion.
(3) Government should not substantially burden the exercise of religion without compelling justification.
(4) In Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) the Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement under the First Amendment to the United States Constitutionthat government justify burdens on the exercise of religion imposed by laws neutral toward religion.
(5) In City of Boerne v. P.F. Flores, 65 LW 4612 (1997) the Supreme Court held that an Act passed by Congress to address the matter of burdens placed on the exercise of religion infringed on the legislative powers reserved to the states under the Constitution of the United States.
(6) The compelling interest test, as set forth in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972),and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing governmental interests. (b) The purposes of this Act are as follows: (1) To restore the compelling interest test as set forth in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), and to guarantee that a test of compelling governmental interest will be imposed on all State and local (including home rule unit) laws, ordinances, policies, procedures, practices, and governmental actions in all cases in which the free exercise of religion is substantially burdened. (2) To provide a claim or defense to persons whose exercise of religion is substantially burdened by government.
§ 775 ILCS 35/15. FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION PROTECTED Sec. 15. Free exercise of religion protected. Government may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person (i) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
§ 775 ILCS 35/20. JUDICIAL RELIEF Sec. 20. Judicial relief. If a person’s exercise of religion has been burdened in violation of this Act, that person may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and may obtain appropriate relief against a government. A party who prevails in an action to enforce this Act against a government is entitled to recover attorney’s fees and costs incurred in maintaining the claim or defense.
§ 775 ILCS 35/25. APPLICATION OF ACT; HOME RULE POWERS Sec. 25. Application of Act; home rule powers. (a) This Act applies to all State and local (including home rule unit) laws, ordinances, policies, procedures, practices, and governmental actions and their implementation, whether statutory or otherwise and whether adopted before or after the effective date of this Act. (b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize a government to burden any religious belief. (c) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect, interpret, or in any way address any of the following: (i) that portion of the First Amendment of the United States Constitutionprohibiting laws respecting the establishment of religion, (ii) the second sentence of Article I, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution, or (iii) Article X, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution.Granting government funding, benefits, or exemptions, to the extent permissible under the 3 constitutional provisions described in items (i), (ii), and (iii) of this subsection, does not constitute a violation of this Act. In this subsection, “granting”, used with respect to government funding, benefits, or exemptions, does not include the denial of government funding, benefits, or exemptions. (d) The corporate authorities of a municipality or other unit of local government may enact ordinances, standards, rules, or regulations that protect the free exercise of religion in a manner or to an extent equal to or greater than the protection provided in this Act. If an ordinance, standard, rule, or regulation enacted under the authority of this Section or under the authority of a unit of local government’s home rule powers prohibits, restricts, narrows, or burdens a person’s exercise of religion or permits the prohibition, restriction, narrowing, or burdening of a person’s exercise of religion, that ordinance, standard, rule, or regulation is void and unenforceable as to that person if it (i) is not in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is not the least restrictive means of furthering that governmental interest. This subsection is a limitation under subsection (i) of Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution on the concurrent exercise by home rule units of powers and functions exercised by the State.
§ 775 ILCS 35/30. O’HARE MODERNIZATION AND SOUTH SUBURBAN AIRPORT Sec. 30. O’Hare Modernization and South Suburban Airport. Nothing in this Act limits the authority of the City of Chicago to exercise its powers under the O’Hare Modernization Act [60 ILCS 65/1 et seq.], or the Department of Transportation to exercise its powers under the Public-Private Agreements for the South Suburban Airport Act [620 ILCS 75/2-1 et seq.], for the purposes of relocation of cemeteries or the graves located therein.
§ 775 ILCS 35/99. EFFECTIVE DATE This Act takes effect on July 1, 1998.
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.