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 Michigan, the civil SOL is set at age 28 for victims who were minors at the time of the assault with a 3 year discovery rule. Michigan also enacted a 90-day window for victims of Larry Nassar.
SOL v. perp or employer = +10 years from majority
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: 3 years
Michigan State Law Provides:
Increased Period of Limitations for CSC
The Revised Judicature Act establishes periods of limitations for various types of actions, which limit the period of time a person may bring an action to recover damages after an injury or damage occurs or is discovered.
Under the bill, the period of limitations would be 10 years for an action based on conduct that constituted criminal sexual conduct. For this purpose, it would not be necessary that a criminal prosecution or other proceeding have been brought as a result of the conduct or, if a criminal prosecution or other proceeding were brought, that the prosecution or proceedings resulted in a conviction.
The Act establishes periods of limitations of two years for an action charging assault, battery, or false imprisonment; five years for an action charging assault or battery brought by a person who has been assaulted or battered by his or her current or former spouse, an individual with whom he or she has had a child, an individual with whom he or she resides or formerly resided, or an individual with whom he or she has or has had a dating relationship; and five years for an action to recover damages for injury to a person or property brought by a person who has been assaulted or battered by such an individual. Under the bill, these periods of limitations would apply except as provided for an action based on criminal sexual conduct.
As used in the bill, "criminal sexual conduct" would mean first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree CSC, or assault with intent to commit second-degree CSC or to commit CSC involving sexual penetration.
Retroactive Claims & Limitations
Under the bill, an individual who was a victim of criminal sexual conduct while a minor could commence an action to recover damages sustained because of the CSC at any time before he or she reached 48 years of age. This would apply to a claim based on CSC that accrued after December 31, 1996. However, if the claim accrued after December 31, 1996, and before three years before the bill's effective date, the action to recover damages for the claim would have to be filed before one year after the bill's effective date.
Also, retroactivity would not apply under either of the following circumstances:
-- The victim consented to the conduct, the victim was at least 13 years of age but less than 16 at the time of the conduct, and the individual who engaged in the conduct was not more than four years older than the victim.
-- The victim consented to the conduct, the victim was 16 or 17 years old at the time of the conduct, and the victim was not under the custodial authority of the individual who engaged in the conduct at the time of the conduct.
("Custodial authority" would mean that term as defined in the Sex Offenders Registration Act.)
These provisions would apply notwithstanding Section 5851 (which provides for an extended period of limitations if the person entitled to bring an action is under 18 or insane at the time the claim accrues.)
S.B. 872, 2018 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Mich.2018) (enacted).
Current Criminal SOL
In Michigan, there is no criminal SOL for felony sex abuse. All other felonies and misdemeanors have an SOL of 30 years after the offense was committed or by the victim’s 48th birthday, unless there is DNA evidence. If there is DNA evidence of the offense, an indictment may be filed at any time after the offense is committed.
NONE for felony sex abuse conduct in the 1st degree.
SOL vs. perp. (for all other felonies and misdemeanors) + 30 years from the commission of the act, or the victim’s 48st birthday, whichever is later for most crimes.
Michigan State Law Provides:
Senate Bill 871
The Code of Criminal Procedure prescribes the time frame in which an indictment for a crime must be found and filed. This is commonly referred to as the statute of limitations. Some crimes, such as murder and first-degree CSC, are not subject to a statute of limitations, meaning that an indictment can be found and filed at any time.
The bill also would allow an indictment to be found and filed at any time for a violation or attempted violation of Section 520c (second-degree CSC) of the Michigan Penal Code in which the victim was under 18 years of age.
In addition, an indictment for a violation of Section 520d of the Penal Code (third-degree CSC) in which the victim was under 18 could be found and filed as follows:
-- Within 30 years after the offense was committed or by the alleged victim's 48th birthday, whichever was later.
-- At any time after the offense was committed, if evidence of the offense were obtained and that evidence contained DNA that was determined to be from an unidentified individual.
In the case of DNA evidence from an unidentified individual, however, after the individual was identified, the statute of limitations would be 30 years after the individual was identified or by the alleged victim's 48th birthday, whichever was later.
Currently, an indictment for various offenses, including second- and third-degree CSC, may be found and filed within 10 years after the offense is committed or by the victim's 21st birthday, whichever is later. If evidence of the offense is obtained, however, and the evidence contains DNA that is determined to be from an unidentified individual, an indictment against that individual for the offense may be filed at any time after the offense is committed. After the individual is identified, however, the statute of limitations is 10 years after the individual is identified or by the alleged victim's 21st birthday, whichever is later. Under the bill, these provisions would apply except as provided for second- or third-degree CSC involving a victim under 18.
S.B. 871, 2018 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Mich.2018) (enacted).
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 722.52.
Age of Consent: 16. See Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.10a.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: Under 18.
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 555.103.
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
A parent shall not be considered negligent solely for providing spiritual treatment in accordance with legitimate religious beliefs. However, this exemption does not extend to medical cases in which the child’s health is at severe risk or repeal the requirement of child abuse reporting.
Michigan Civil Statute:
A parent or guardian legitimately practicing his religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child, for that reason alone shall not be consi-dered a negligent parent or guardian. This section shall not preclude a court from ordering the provision of medical services or nonmedical remedial services recognized by state law to a child where the child’s health requires it nor does it abrogate the responsibility of a person required to report child abuse or neglect.
Michigan Compiled Laws § 722.634(14)
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is no religious exemption to criminal liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith.
Michigan Criminal Statute:
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
Except as provided in subsection (4) for a violation of section 520c or 520d of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520c and 750.520d, in which the victim is under 18 years of age, an indictment for a violation or attempted violation of section 136, 136a, 145c, 520c, 520d, 520e, or 520g of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.136, 750.136a, 750.145c, 750.520c, 750.520d, 750.520e, and 750.520g, may be found and filed as follows:(b) If evidence of the offense is obtained and that evidence contains DNA that is determined to be from an unidentified individual, an indictment against that individual for the offense may be found and filed at any time after the offense is committed. However, after the individual is identified, the indictment may be found and filed within 15 years after the individual is identified or by the alleged victim's twenty-eighth birthday, whichever is later.
An indictment for a violation of section 520c or 520d of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520c and 750.520d, in which the victim is under 18 years of age may be found and filed as follows:(b) If evidence of the offense is obtained and that evidence contains DNA that is determined to be from an unidentified individual, an indictment against that individual for the offense may be found and filed at any time after the offense is committed. However, after the individual is identified, the indictment may be found and filed within 15 years after the individual is identified or by the alleged victim's twenty-eighth birthday, whichever is later. (5) As used in subsections (3) and (4): “DNA” means human deoxyribonucleic acid (b) “Identified” means the individual's legal name is known and he or she has been determined to be the source of the DNA.
Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 767.24 (West)
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
2015 Pending Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act
SENATE BILL NO. 4 (View Bill as PDF)
January 20, 2015, Introduced by Senator SHIRKEY and referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
A bill to limit governmental action that substantially burdens a person’s exercise of religion; to set forth legislative findings; to provide for asserting a burden on exercise of religion as a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding; and to provide remedies.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT: Extreme Religious Liberty Statute Medical Neglect Statute Civil Medical Neglect Statute (click to view) Criminal Medical Neglect Statute (click to view) Read More Sec. 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Michigan religious freedom restoration act”.
Sec. 2. The legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The free exercise of religion is an inherent, fundamental, and unalienable right secured by article 1 of the state constitution of 1963 and the first amendment to the United States constitution.
(b) Laws neutral toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise.
(c) Government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification.
(d) In 1993, the congress of the United States enacted the religious freedom restoration act to address burdens placed on the exercise of religion in response to the United States supreme court’s decision in Employment Division v Smith, 494 US 872 (1990), which virtually eliminated the requirement that the government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws neutral toward religion.
(e) In City of Boerne v P.F. Flores, 521 US 507 (1997), the United States supreme court held that the religious freedom restoration act of 1993 infringed on the legislative powers reserved to the states under the United States constitution.
(f) The compelling interest test set forth in prior court rulings, including Porth v Roman Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo, 209Mich App 630 (1995), is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing governmental interests in this state.
Sec. 3. The purposes of this act are the following:
(a) To guarantee application of the compelling interest test, as recognized by the United States supreme court in Sherbert v Verner, 374 US 398 (1963); Wisconsin v Yoder, 406 US 205 (1972); and Gonzales v O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 US 418 (2006), to all cases where free exercise of religion is substantially burdened by government.
(b) To provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.
Sec. 4. As used in this act:
(a) “Demonstrates” means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.
(b) “Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion, including an act or refusal to act, that is substantially motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief.
(c) “Government” means any branch, department, agency, division, bureau, board, commission, council, authority, instrumentality, employee, official, or other entity of this state or a political subdivision of this state, or a person acting under color of law.
Sec. 5. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2), government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
(2) Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to that person’s exercise of religion in that particular instance is both of the following:
(a) In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.
(b) The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
(3) A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain appropriate relief, including equitable relief, against government.
(4) A court or tribunal may award all or a portion of the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney fees, to a person who prevails against government under this section.
Sec. 6. (1) Section 5 applies to all laws of this state and of a political subdivision of this state, and the implementation of those laws, whether statutory or otherwise and whether adopted before or after the effective date of this act, unless the law explicitly excludes application by reference to this act.
(2) This act shall be construed in favor of broad protection of religious exercise to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this act, the state constitution of 1963, and the United States constitution.
(3) Nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize any burden on any religious belief.
(4) Nothing in this act shall be construed to preempt or repeal any law that is equally or more protective of religious exercise than this act.
(5) Nothing in this act shall be construed to affect, interpret, or in any way address those portions of the United States constitution or the state constitution of 1963 that prohibit laws respecting the establishment of religion. Granting government funding, benefits, or exemptions, to the extent permissible under those constitutional provisions, is not a violation of this act. As used in this subsection, the term “granting”, used with respect to government funding, benefits, or exemptions, does not include the denial of government funding, benefits, or exemptions.
Sec. 7. If any provision of this act or any application of such a provision to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this act and the application of the provision to any other person or circumstance is not affected.
Source: Michigan Legislature
Previously Introduced Legislation
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.