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 North Dakota, instead of having an age limit on the SOL for civil child sex abuse cases, the state has a discovery rule. The discovery allows victims up to 10 years after discovering that they were sexually abused.
SOL vs. perp.: + 10 years from narrow discovery
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Narrow
North Dakota State Law Provides:
Limitation on actions alleging childhood sexual abuse
Notwithstanding section 28-01-25, a claim for relief resulting from childhood sexual abuse must be commenced within ten years after the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known that a potential claim exists resulting from alleged childhood sexual abuse. For purposes of this section, "childhood sexual abuse" means any act committed by the defendant against the plaintiff which occurred when the plaintiff was under eighteen years of age and which would have been a violation of chapter 12.1-20 or 12.1-27.2. In a claim for relief under this section, the plaintiff is not required to establish which act in a continuous series of sexual abuse acts by the defendant caused the injury. N.D. Cent. Code, § 28-01-25.1
Majority: Yes, 18
Discovery: Yes, narrow
If a person who is entitled to bring an action other than for the recovery of real property, or for a penalty or forfeiture, or against a sheriff or other officer for an escape is: 1. Under the age of eighteen years… at the time the claim for relief accrues, the time of such disability is not a part of the time limited for the commencement of the action. However, the period within which the action must be brought cannot be extended more than five years by any such disability except infancy, nor can it be extended in any case longer than one year after the disability ceases. In cases alleging professional malpractice, the extension of the limitation due to infancy is limited to twelve years.
N.D. Cent. Code, § 28-01-25 (1)
Current Criminal SOL
In North Dakota, the criminal SOL is capped at age 28 (age of majority, 18, plus 10 years) or three years after the offense is reported to law enforcement. However, If, SOL has expired but DNA evidence established the identity of the perpetrator, victim can bring cause of action.
SOL vs. perp.: + 10 years, from majority = Age 28
SOL vs. perp.: + 3 years after the offense is reported to law enforcement
If, SOL has expired but DNA evidence established the identity of the perpetrator, victim can bring cause of action.
North Dakota State Law Provides:
Prosecution for sexual abuse of minors
(3.1)(1) Except as provided in subsection 2, a prosecution for a violation of sections 12.1-20-03 through 12.1-20-08 or of section 12.1-20-11 if the victim was under eighteen years of age at the time the offense was committed must be commenced in the proper court within ten years after the commission of the offense or, if the victim failed to report the offense within this limitation period, within three years after the offense was reported to law enforcement authorities.
(2) If, based upon evidence containing deoxyribonucleic acid or a fingerprint obtained at the time of offense, a suspect is conclusively identified by deoxyribonucleic acid testing after the time period prescribed in subsection 1 has expired, a prosecution may be commenced within three years after the suspect is conclusively identified by the deoxyribonucleic acid testing or fingerprint authentication.
N.D. Cent. Code, § 29-04-03.1
Statute of limitations as to child victim
If the victim of a violation of chapter 12.1-20 or of the crime of human trafficking is under the age of fifteen, the applicable period of limitation, if any, does not begin to run until the victim has reached the age of fifteen.
N.D. Cent. Code, § 29-04-03.2
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See, N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 14-10-01.
Age of Consent: 15 or 18, depending on the act. See, N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 12.1-20-03.1.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16.
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See, N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 14-03-02
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
The state cannot mandate that intervention services are required solely because because the child is being treated in accordance with the religious beliefs of their parent.
North Dakota Civil Statute:
A decision that services are required may not be made when the suspected child abuse or neglect arises solely out of conduct involving the legitimate practice of religious beliefs by a parent or guardian.
North Dakota Century Code §50-25.1-05.1(2)
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is no religious exemption to criminal liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith.
North Dakota Criminal Statute:
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
2. If, based upon evidence containing deoxyribonucleic acid or a fingerprint obtained at the time of offense, a suspect is conclusively identified by deoxyribonucleic acid testing after the time period prescribed in subsection 1 has expired, a prosecution may be commenced within three years after the suspect is conclusively identified by the deoxyribonucleic acid testing or fingerprint authentication.
N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-03.1 (West)
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
No law as of January 2017
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.