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 Indiana, the civil SOL is 7 years after the incident or 4 years after the victim is no longer dependent on the abuser, whichever is later.
SOL vs. perp.: + 7 years from accrual (narrow discovery), or, + 4 years from leaving dependency of abuser whichever is later; + 2 from majority where accrual occurred after majority.
SOL vs. employer: + 7 years from accrual (narrow discovery), or, + 4 years from leaving dependency of abuser whichever is later; + 2 from majority where accrual occurred after majority.
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Narrow
Indiana State Law Provides:
Injury or forfeiture of penalty actions
Sec. 4. (a) An action for:
(1) injury to person or character;
(2) injury to personal property; or
(3) a forfeiture of penalty given by statute;must be commenced within two (2) years after the cause of action accrues.(b) An action for injury to a person that results from the sexual abuse of a child must be commenced within the later of:
(1) seven (7) years after the cause of action accrues;
or(2) four (4) years after the person ceases to be a dependent of the person alleged to have performed the sexual abuse.
IN ST 34-11-2-4
Church, 673 N.E.2d 839, 842 (Ind. 1996)
Current Criminal SOL
In Indiana, there is no criminal SOL for class A, Level 1 and 2 child sex abuse felonies. For child molestation, vicarious sexual gratification, child solicitation, child seduction, and incest, the SOL is capped at age 31 (age of majority, 18, plus 13 years). For all child sex offenses not listed, the criminal SOL is 10 years from commission or four years from victim leaving abuser’s dependence.
NONE for class A, Level 1 and 2 felonies committed on or after June 30, 2014.
SOL is capped at age 31 for child molesting, vicarious sexual gratification, child solicitation, child seduction and incest.
SOL for sex offenses not otherwise listed: + 10 years from commission, or, + 4 years from victim leaving abuser’s dependence. Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 35-41-4-2 (c), (e), (m).
Indiana State Law Provides:
Periods of limitation
(e) A prosecution for the following offenses is barred unless commenced before the date that the alleged victim of theoffense reaches thirty-one (31) years of age:
(1) IC 35-42-4-3(a) (Child molesting).
(2) IC 35-42-4-5 (Vicarious sexual gratification).
(3) IC 35-42-4-6 (Child solicitation).
(4) IC 35-42-4-7 (Child seduction).
(5) IC 35-46-1-3 (Incest).
(m) A prosecution for a sex offense listed in IC 11-8-8-4.5 that is committed against a child and that is not:
(1) a Class A felony (for a crime committed before July 1, 2014) or a Level 1 felony or Level 2 felony (for a crimecommitted after June 30, 2014); or
(2) listed in subsection (e);
is barred unless commenced within ten (10) years after the commission of the offense, or within four (4) years after theperson ceases to be a dependent of the person alleged to have committed the offense, whichever occurs later.
IN ST 35-41-4-2
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See Ind. Code Ann. § 34-11-6-2.
Age of Consent: 16. See Ind. Code Ann. § 35-42-4-3.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 15 with proof of pregnancy. See Ind. Code Ann. § 31-11-1.
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18. See Ind. Code Ann. § 31-11-1.
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is a civil exemption of child abuse for parents solely providing spiritual treatment in accordance with genuine religious beliefs. However, this does not apply to situations in which the child’s life is in serious danger.
Indiana Civil Statute:
If a parent, guardian, or custodian fails to provide specific medical treatment for a child because of the legitimate and genuine practice of religious beliefs of the parent, guardian, or custodian, a rebuttable presumption arises that the child is not a child in need of services because of the failure. However, this presumption does not . . . apply to situations in which the life or health of a child is in serious danger.
Indiana Code § 31-34-1-14
In addition, nothing in this chapter limits the lawful practice or teaching of religious beliefs.
Indiana Code § 31-34-1-15
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is a criminal defense to neglect for parents choosing to solely provide their child with spiritual treatment in accordance with a legitimate religious belief. The parents have the burden of proving that the provided prayer treatment is in fact part of a legitimate religion.
Indiana Law Provides:
INDIANA defense to criminal neglect and nonsupport. It is a defense to the criminal offense of neglect of a dependent that the accused person, in the legitimate practice of his/her religious belief, provided treatment by spiritual means through prayer, in lieu of medical care, to his/her dependent.
Indiana Code § 35-46-1-4
It is a defense to criminal nonsupport that the accused person, in the legitimate practice of his religious belief, provided treatment by spiritual means through prayer, in lieu of medical care, to his dependent child.
Indiana Code § 35-46-1-5
Note: Several Faith Assembly parents who withheld medical care on religious grounds were charged in Indiana for deaths of children. In Hall v. State, 493 N.E.2d 433 (Ind. 1986), the Indiana Supreme Court upheld Faith Assembly parents’ convictions for reckless homicide and rejected their argument that the defense to neglect insulated them from the charge. The Court ruled that parents had a religious defense to neglect that created “a substantial risk of death” and resulted in “serious bodily injury,” but not to reckless homicide resulting in the actual death of a dependent.
In Bergmann v. State, 486 N.E.2d 653 (Ind. 1985) an Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Faith Assembly parents’ convictions for reckless homicide and neglect. The Court ruled that the parents had the burden of proving to the jury that they provided prayer treatment in the legitimate practice of their religious belief, that the jury was evidently not convinced, and the Court “cannot disturb the jury’s conclusion.” The Court also pointed out that the Bergmanns had not raised objections at trial to the jury instructions or the prosecutor’s characterization of the defense.
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
(b) A prosecution for a Class B or Class C felony (for a crime committed before July 1, 2014) or a Level 3, Level 4, or Level 5 felony (for a crime committed after June 30, 2014) that would otherwise be barred under this section may be commenced within one (1) year after the earlier of the date on which the state: (1) first discovers evidence sufficient to charge the offender with the offense through DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) analysis; or (2) could have discovered evidence sufficient to charge the offender with the offense through DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) analysis by the exercise of due diligence.
(n) A prosecution for rape (IC 35-42-4-1) as a Class B felony (for a crime committed before July 1, 2014) or as a Level 3 felony (for a crime committed after June 30, 2014) that would otherwise be barred under this section may be commenced not later than five (5) years after the earlier of the date on which: (1) the state first discovers evidence sufficient to charge the offender with the offense through DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) analysis.
(o) A prosecution for criminal deviate conduct (IC 35-42-4-2) (repealed) as a Class B felony for a crime committed before July 1, 2014, that would otherwise be barred under this section may be commenced not later than five (5) years after the earliest of the date on which: (1) the state first discovers evidence sufficient to charge the offender with the offense through DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) analysis.
Ind. Code Ann. § 35-41-4-2
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
RFRA Proposed Changes [PDF Document]
Current RFRA [PDF Document]
2015 ENACTED BILL: INDIANA RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT (S.B. 568)
Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act – Introduced 1/20/15
Source: //iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/senate/568 View Bill Text as PDF View Bill Fiscal Summary
SENATE BILL No. 568 A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning civil procedure.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:
SECTION 1. IC 34-13-9 IS ADDED TO THE INDIANA CODE AS A NEW CHAPTER TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE UPON PASSAGE]: Read More Chapter 9. Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Sec. 1. (a) As used in this chapter, “burden” means an action that directly or indirectly:
(1) constrains, inhibits, curtails, or denies the exercise of religion by a person; or
(2) compels a person to take an action that is contrary to the person’s exercise of religion.
(b) The term includes:
(1) withholding a benefit from a person;
(2) assessing a criminal, a civil, or an administrative penalty against a person; or
(3) excluding a person from a governmental program or denying a person access to a governmental facility. Sec. 2. As used in this chapter, “compelling governmental interest” means a governmental interest of the highest magnitude that cannot otherwise be achieved without burdening the exercise of religion.
Sec. 3. (a) As used in this chapter, “exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion. (b) The term includes a person’s ability to:
(1) act; or
(2) refuse to act;
in a manner that is substantially motivated by the person’s sincerely held religious belief, regardless of whether the religious belief is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
Sec. 4. As used in this chapter, “person” means an individual, an association, a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a church, a religious institution, an estate, a trust, a foundation, or any other legal entity.
Sec. 5. As used in this chapter, “state action” means:
(1) the implementation or application of a state or local law or policy; or
(2) the taking of any other action;
by the state or a political subdivision of the state.
Sec. 6. A state action, or an action taken by an individual based on state action, may not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a law or policy of general applicability, unless the state or political subdivision of the state demonstrates that applying the burden to the person’s exercise of religion is:
(1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.
Sec. 7. (a) A person whose exercise of religion:
(1) has been substantially burdened; or
(2) is likely to be substantially burdened;
by a violation of section 6 of this chapter may assert the violation, or impending violation, as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, regardless of whether the state or a political subdivision of the state is a party to the judicial proceeding.
(b) A person who asserts a claim or defense under subsection (a) may obtain appropriate relief from a violation, or an impending violation, of section 6 of this chapter, including relief against the state or a political subdivision of the state. Appropriate relief under this subsection includes any of the following:
(1) Injunctive relief.
(2) Declaratory relief.
(3) Compensatory damages.
(4) Recovery of court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. SECTION 2. An emergency is declared for this act.
S.B. 127 – Religious Exemption in State and Local Contracts
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.