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 Minnesota, there is no civil SOL for child sex abuse claims.
Open window for three years, 2014 – 2017, for expired claims.
SOL vs. perp.: NONE.
SOL vs. employer: Before age 24.
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Liberal
Age of Consent: 16
Minnesota State Law Provides:
Actions for damages due to sexual abuse
The plaintiff need not establish which act in a continuous series of sexual abuse acts by the defendant caused the injury.
Minn. Stat. § 541.073 (b)
Current Criminal SOL
In Minnesota, there is no criminal SOL if DNA evidence is collected. If DNA evidence is not collected, the criminal SOL is nine years after the incident, or three years after it is reported to the authorities, whichever is later.
NONE, if DNA evidence is collected.
If DNA evidence is not collected then, SOL is + 9 years after the commission, or +3 years after it is reported to the authorities, whichever is later.
Minnesota State Law Provides:
(e) Indictments or complaints for violation of sections 609.322 and 609.342 to 609.345, if the victim was under the age of 18 years at the time the offense was committed, shall be found or made and filed in the proper court within the later of nine years after the commission of the offense or three years after the offense was reported to law enforcement authorities.
(f) Notwithstanding the limitations in paragraph (e), indictments or complaints for violation of sections 609.322 and 609.342 to 609.344 may be found or made and filed in the proper court at any time after commission of the offense, if physical evidence is collected and preserved that is capable of being tested for its DNA characteristics. If this evidence is not collected and preserved and the victim was 18 years old or older at the time of the offense, the prosecution must be commenced within nine years after the commission of the offense.
Minn. Stat. § 628.26 (e) – (f)
Age of Majority/ Age of Consent/ Age of Marriage
Age of Consent: 16
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is a religious exemption to child abuse, neglect, or a failure to report. There are also exemptions to religious immunizations, physician examinations, and studying disease in school.
Minnesota Law Provides:
Like many other states, Minnesota has religious exemptions in its civil codes on child abuse, neglect, or failure to report. In addition, Minnesota offers religious exemptions from immunizations, physical examinations of school children, and learning about disease in school.
Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Bostrom, and Petersen v. Vladeck and Shalala, 938 F. Supp. 1466 (D. Minn. 1996) CHILD v. Vladeck was filed January 19, 1996, in the U. S. District Court of Minnesota as a taxpayers’ suit against the federal government for using Medicare and Medicaid funds to pay for Christian Science nursing. The Christian Science church later entered the case as a defendant-intervenor.
On August 7, 1996, the Court struck down the laws and regulations mandating such payments, declaring them unconstitutional, invalid, and unenforceable.
When Medicare and Medicaid programs were set up in 1965, Congress authorized reimbursements to care facilities accredited by the Christian Science church. The facilities, called “sanatoria” by the government, are staffed by “nurses” who have no state licensure, medical training, or even first aid training. They do not work under supervision of any state-licensed personnel. All sanatoria nurses and administrators must be members of the Christian Science church. All patients must retain Christian Science healers for spiritual “treatments.”
CHILD argued that it was unconstitutional for the government to delegate to a church the power to determine which institutions should receive public money and for the government to pay for “pervasively sectarian” activities.
CHILD’s main concern, however, is that the Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements for Christian Science care facilities encourage endangerment of children. Christian Science nurses cannot take a pulse or use a fever thermometer. They have no training in recognizing contagious diseases. They will not do even simple, non-medical procedures to relieve discomfort, such as applying heat or giving backrubs.
They have been retained to attend sick children and have sat taking notes as the children suffered and died, but they have not called for medical care nor recommended that the parents obtain it. The notes of these nurses indicate that they observed children having “heavy convulsions,” vomiting repeatedly, and urinating uncontrollably. They have seen the children moaning in pain and too weak to get out of bed. They have seen their eyes roll upward and fix in a glassy stare. One Christian Science nurse force-fed a toddler as he was dying of a bowel obstruction.
On January 23, 1997, Attorney-General Janet Reno advised Congress that her office could no longer defend the statutes and regulations mandating public money for Christian Science nursing. In June, however, Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced an amendment mandating payment for “religious non-medical health care” that was added to the budget bill with no discussion and signed into law in August. The amendment repealed the statutes and regulations declared unconstitutional in CHILD’s suit, thus mooting the court’s ruling, and established payments for Christian Science nursing under new statutory language.
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
Minnesota statutes allow for religious defenses to felony crimes against children.
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
Notwithstanding the limitations in paragraph (e), indictments or complaints for violation of sections 609.322 and 609.342 to 609.344 may be found or made and filed in the proper court at any time after commission of the offense, if physical evidence is collected and preserved that is capable of being tested for its DNA characteristics. If this evidence is not collected and preserved and the victim was 18 years old or older at the time of the offense, the prosecution must be commenced within nine years after the commission of the offense.
Minn. Stat. § 628.26(n)
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.