Maryland

 
Maryland.png
 

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 Maryland, the civil SOL is capped at age 38 (age of majority, 18, plus 20 years) or 3 years after the perpetrator is convicted of a crime, whichever is later.

SOL vs. perp: Age of majority plus 20 years or 3 years after conviction of perpetrator, whichever is later
SOL vs. employer: Age of majority plus 20 years, and no later

Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: No

Before January 1, 2017

SOL vs. perp: +7 years from majority = Age 25
SOL vs. employer: +7 years from majority = Age 25
SOL: + 7 years from majority


Maryland State Law Provides:

Actions arising from alleged sexual abuse

(a) “Sexual abuse” defined. — In this section, “sexual abuse” has the meaning stated in § 5-701 of the Family Law Article.
(b) Limitations period. An action for damages arising out of an alleged incident or incidents of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was a minor shall be filed within 7 years of the date that the victim attains the age of majority.

Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 5-117

Abuse

“Abuse” means:

(1) the physical or mental injury of a child by any parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of a child, or by any household or family member, under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed; or
(2) sexual abuse of a child, whether physical injuries are sustained or not.

Md. FAMILY LAW Code Ann. § 5-701 (b)(1)-(2) Abuse

Sexual abuse

(1) “Sexual abuse” means an act that involves sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of a child by:

(i) A parent or other individual who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of the child; or
(ii) A household or family member.

Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 3-801 (x)(1)(i)-(ii)

TOLLING

Majority, yes. Age 18.

(b) within 7 years of the date that the victim attains the age of majority.
Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 5-117

Adult.

“Adult” means an individual who is at least 18 years old.
Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 3-801(d)

Child.

“Child” means an individual under the age of 18 years.
Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 3-801 (e)

Discovery, NO.

Noting failure to pass statutory discovery rule by legislature along with most recent extension, stating “[w]hen introduced as Senate Bill 68, Chapter 360 included two features that did not survive to final passage. The Bill would have made the statute of limitations twelve years following the later of the victim’s twenty-first birthday or the victim’s discovery that the alleged abuse was actionable.” (As enacted Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §5-117 reads “shall be filed within 7 years of the date that the victim attains the age of majority."
Roe v. Doe, 193 Md. App. 558, 566, 998 A.2d 383, 388 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2010)

After reviewing the arguments on both sides of the issue, we are unconvinced that repression exists as a phenomenon separate and apart from the normal process of forgetting. Because we find these two processes to be indistinguishable scientifically, it follows that they should be treated the same legally. Therefore we hold that the mental process of repression of memories of past sexual abuse does not activate the discovery rule. The plaintiffs’ suits are thus barred by the statute of limitations. If the General Assembly should wish to rewrite the law, that is its prerogative and responsibility.
Doe v. Maskell, 342 Md. 684, 695, 679 A.2d 1087, 1092 (Md. 1996)

Appellant also urges us to analogize his case to the latent disease line of cases, for which the statute of limitations does not accrue until the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known of the nature and cause of the harm. He bases this assertion on his claim that he did not know of the nature of the harm until his marriage ‘fell apart’ in 1994. See Pennwalt Corp., 314 Md. at 453; Pierce v. Johns-Manville Sales Corp., 296 Md. 656, 663, 464 A.2d 1020 (1983). We find the latent disease cases inapposite. Application of the discovery rule in latent disease cases is premised on the idea that a disease in its latent stage is ‘unknown and inherently unknowable.’ Wilson v. Johns-Manville Sales Corp., 684 F.2d 111, 117, 221 U.S. App. D.C. 337 (D.C. Cir. 1982) (quoting Urie v. Thompson, 337 U.S. 163, 169, 93 L. Ed. 1282, 69 S. Ct. 1018 (1949)); see also Harig v. Johns-Manville Products Corp., 284 Md. 70, 80, 394 A.2d 299 (1978) (stating that latent disease is “undiscoverable”). The harm resulting from the intentional tort of sexual battery is simply not ‘inherently unknowable’ to a reasonable person.
Doe v. Archdiocese of Washington, 114 Md. App. 169, 183, 689 A.2d 634, 641-642, 1997 Md. App. LEXIS 39, 21-22 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1997)

Current Criminal SOL

In Maryland, there is no criminal SOL.

None for all felonies (most sexual offenses are classified as felonies)

No SOL for felonies and misdemeanors.


Maryland State Law Provides:

Maryland has no statute of limitations on felonies or penitentiary misdemeanors beyond that imposed by the life of the offender.
Clark v. State, 774 A.2d 1136, n.8 (Md. 2001)

Age of Majority: 18. See Md. Code Ann. Est. & Trusts § 13-101(m) (“A ‘minor’ is a person who has not reached the age of 18.”).
Age of Consent: 16. See Md. Code Ann. Crim. Law § 3-304.

Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 (under 16 with judicial consent or proof of pregnancy).
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See Md. Code Ann. Fam. Law § 2-301.


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.

Maryland Civil Statute:
None

CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE

There is no religious exemption to criminal liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith.

Maryland Criminal Statute:
None


DNA Provision

Current DNA Provision

*As of December 2018

N/A


Religous Liberty Statute

Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk

No law as of January 2014


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.