Texas

 
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A statute of limitations (or SOL), simply, is the maximum amount of time one has to bring a lawsuit from the time of the injury or other ground for a lawsuit.

SOLs vary from state to state and from claim to claim. For example, a SOL for a lawsuit about a contract may be different from a lawsuit about a personal injury and both may be of varying durations between different states. The statute of limitations may also be set to begin running at different times. Some SOLs begin running at the time of the injury and others begin running when the injury is discovered. In cases with minors, the SOL is “tolled” or doesn’t begin to run until the minor turns 18.

Child Sex Abuse Statutes of Limitation and Related Laws

Current Civil SOL

In Texas, the civil SOL for child sex abuse claims is 15 years after the abuse occurred.

SOL vs. perp: +15 years from accrual
SOL vs. employer: +15 years from accrual

Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Narrow

SOL: + 15 years from accrual (accrual at very narrow discovery).


Texas State Law Provides:

LIMITATIONS PERIOD FOR CLAIMS ARISING FROM CERTAIN OFFENSES

(a) A person must bring suit for personal injury not later than 15 years after the day the cause of action accrues if the injury arises as a result of conduct that violates:

(1) Section 22.011(a)(2), Penal Code (sexual assault of a child);
(2) Section 22.021(a)(1)(B), Penal Code (aggravated sexual assault of a child);
(3) Section 21.02, Penal Code (continuous sexual abuse of young child or children);
(4) Section 20A.02(a)(7)(A), (B), (C), (D), or (H) or Section 20A.02(a)(8), Penal Code, involving an activity described by Section 20A.02(a)(7)(A), (B), (C), (D), or (H) or sexual conduct with a child trafficked in the manner described by Section 20A.02(a)(7), Penal Code (certain sexual trafficking of a child); (5) Section 43.05(a)(2), Penal Code (compelling prostitution by a child); or
(6) Section 21.11, Penal Code (indecency with a child).

(b) A person must bring suit for personal injury not later than five years after the day the cause of action accrues if the injury arises as a result of conduct that violates:

(1) Section 22.011(a)(1), Penal Code (sexual assault);
(2) Section 22.021(a)(1)(A), Penal Code (aggravated sexual assault);
(3) Section 20A.02, Penal Code (trafficking of persons), other than conduct described by Subsection (a)(4); or
(4) Section 43.05(a)(1), Penal Code (compelling prostitution).

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.0045 (c)

TOLLING:

Majority. Yes, 18.

Civil Practice & Remedies Code

(a) For the purposes of this subchapter, a person is under a legal disability if the person is:

(1) younger than 18 years of age, regardless of whether the person is married; or
(2) of unsound mind.

(b) If a person entitled to bring a personal action is under a legal disability when the cause of action accrues, the time of the disability is not included in a limitations period.

TX CIV PRAC & REM § 16.001

Discovery, Yes, very narrow. Knowledge of perp and knowledge of abuse only.

(c)The limitations period under this section is tolled for a suit on the filing of a petition by any person in an appropriate court alleging that the identity of the defendant in the suit is unknown and designating the unknown defendant as “John or Jane Doe.” The person filing the petition shall proceed with due diligence to discover the identity of the defendant and amend the petition by substituting the real name of the defendant for “John or Jane Doe” not later than the 30th day after the date that the defendant is identified to the plaintiff. The limitations period begins running again on the date that the petition is amended.
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.0045 (c)

OVERVIEW: Appellants’ 2008 sexual abuse claims against a church school, a church, and a reverend were time barred under the five-year statute of limitations in Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.0045(a), and the limitations period was not tolled by the discovery rule because appellants admitted they had been aware, at least periodically, of the molestation since they turned 18 in at least 1974, and their reporting of the abuse in 1968 foreclosed the contention that the abuse was inherently undiscoverable.
Doe v. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Sch., 382 Fed. Appx. 386, (5th Cir. Tex. 2010)

The Texas Supreme Court has not directly addressed the question of whether all sexual abuse cases are inherently undiscoverable, but other Texas courts have found that the discovery rule does not apply uniformly to these cases. See Doe v. Linam, 225 F. Supp. 2d 731, 735-36 (S.D. Tex. 2002) (holding that the discovery rule did not apply because the plaintiff knew both of the abuse and of his emotional and psychological problems); Marshall v. First Baptist Church, 949 S.W.2d 504, 507 (Tex. App. 1997) (holding that the discovery rule did not apply because the victim had reported the abuse and therefore had “discovered the wrongful acts”). To bring a suit, it is not necessary for the victim to connect the abuse to any subsequent psychological injuries or understand the full extent of his injuries. Adams v. YMCA, 265 S.W.3d 915, 917-18 (Tex. 2008); Linam, 225 F. Supp. 2d at 735-36. Sexual assault–an impermissible and intentional invasion of the victim’s person–is in and of itself an injury “actionable independently and separately from mental suffering or other injury.” Harned v. E-Z Fin. Co., 151 Tex. 641, 254 S.W.2d 81, 85 (Tex. 1953).
Doe v. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Sch., 382 Fed. Appx. 386, 388-389,(5th Cir. Tex. 2010)

Current Criminal SOL

In Texas, there is no criminal SOL for most crimes.


NONE, for most crimes.
SOL vs. perp. (for child porn): + 20 years from majority age = Age 38
SOL vs. perp. (for trafficking or compelling prostitution): + 10 years from majority = Age 28

Texas State Law Provides:

Except as provided in Article 12.03, felony indictments may be presented within these limits, and not afterward:

(1) no limitation:

(B) sexual assault under Section 22.011(a)(2), Penal Code, or aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021(a)(1)(B), Penal Code;
(C) sexual assault, if:

(i) during the investigation of the offense biological matter is collected and subjected to forensic DNA testing and the testing results show that the matter does not match the victim or any other person whose identity is readily ascertained; or
(ii) probable cause exists to believe that the defendant has committed the same or a similar sexual offense against five or more victims;

(D) continuous sexual abuse of young child or children under Section 21.02, Penal Code;
(E) indecency with a child under Section 21.11, Penal Code;
(F) an offense involving leaving the scene of an accident under Section 550.021, Transportation Code, if the accident resulted in the death of a person;
(G) trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(7) or (8), Penal Code;
(H) continuous trafficking of persons under Section 20A.03, Penal Code; or
(I) compelling prostitution under Section 43.05(a)(2), Penal Code;

(2) ten years from the date of the commission of the offense:

(E) sexual assault, except as provided by Subdivision (1);
(G) trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(1), (2), (3), or (4), Penal Code; or
(H) compelling prostitution under Section 43.05(a)(1), Penal Code;

(3) seven years from the date of the commission of the offense:

(H) exploitation of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual under Section 32.53, Penal Code;

(4) five years from the date of the commission of the offense:

(D) abandoning or endangering a child; or

(5) if the investigation of the offense shows that the victim is younger than 17 years of age at the time the offense is committed, 20 years from the 18th birthday of the victim of one of the following offenses:

(A) sexual performance by a child under Section 43.25, Penal Code;
(B) aggravated kidnapping under Section 20.04(a)(4), Penal Code, if the defendant committed the offense with the intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually; or
(D) of this article or Paragraph (B) of this subdivision;

(6) ten years from the 18th birthday of the victim of the offense:

(A) trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(5) or (6), Penal Code;
(B) injury to a child under Section 22.04, Penal Code; or
(C) bigamy under Section 25.01, Penal Code, if the investigation of the offense shows that the person, other than the legal spouse of the defendant, whom the defendant marries or purports to marry or with whom the defendant lives under the appearance of being married is younger than 18 years of age at the time the offense is committed; or

(7) three years from the date of the commission of the offense: all other felonies.

TX CRIM PRO Art. 12.01

Age of Majority: 18. See, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.001(a)(1).
Age of Consent: 17. See, Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 21.11.

Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 (under 16 with judicial consent).
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See, Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 2.102, 2.103.


Medical Neglect Statute

CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE

Texas has a religious exemption in administrative regu­la­tions, as guidance for child protection service workers, but not in its civil statutes.

Texas Civil Statute:
No statute. (see above)

CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE

A parent shall not be held liable for criminal injury to a child purely for providing religious treatment in accordance with the practices of a recognized religion.

Texas Criminal Statute:
TEXAS defense to criminal injury to a child
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the act or omission was based on treatment in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recog­nized religious method of healing with a generally accepted record of efficacy.
Texas Penal Code §22.04(l)(1)


Religous Liberty Statute

Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk

Enacted Texas Religious Freedom Law

CIVIL PRACTICE AND REMEDIES CODE

TITLE 5. GOVERNMENTAL LIABILITY

CHAPTER 110. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Sec. 110.001. DEFINITIONS. (a) In this chapter: (1) “Free exercise of religion” means an act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by sincere religious belief. In determining whether an act or refusal to act is substantially motivated by sincere religious belief under this chapter, it is not necessary to determine that the act or refusal to act is motivated by a central part or central requirement of the person’s sincere religious belief. (2) “Government agency” means: (A) this state or a municipality or other political subdivision of this state; and (B) any agency of this state or a municipality or other political subdivision of this state, including a department, bureau, board, commission, office, agency, council, or public institution of higher education. (b) In determining whether an interest is a compelling governmental interest under Section 110.003, a court shall give weight to the interpretation of compelling interest in federal case law relating to the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.002. APPLICATION. (a) This chapter applies to any ordinance, rule, order, decision, practice, or other exercise of governmental authority. (b) This chapter applies to an act of a government agency, in the exercise of governmental authority, granting or refusing to grant a government benefit to an individual. (c) This chapter applies to each law of this state unless the law is expressly made exempt from the application of this chapter by reference to this chapter.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999. Read More Sec. 110.003. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM PROTECTED. (a) Subject to Subsection (b), a government agency may not substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion. (b) Subsection (a) does not apply if the government agency demonstrates that the application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. (c) A government agency that makes the demonstration required by Subsection (b) is not required to separately prove that the remedy and penalty provisions of the law, ordinance, rule, order, decision, practice, or other exercise of governmental authority that imposes the substantial burden are the least restrictive means to ensure compliance or to punish the failure to comply.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.004. DEFENSE. A person whose free exercise of religion has been substantially burdened in violation of Section 110.003 may assert that violation as a defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding without regard to whether the proceeding is brought in the name of the state or by any other person.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.005. REMEDIES. (a) Any person, other than a government agency, who successfully asserts a claim or defense under this chapter is entitled to recover: (1) declaratory relief under Chapter 37; (2) injunctive relief to prevent the threatened violation or continued violation; (3) compensatory damages for pecuniary and nonpecuniary losses; and (4) reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, and other reasonable expenses incurred in bringing the action. (b) Compensatory damages awarded under Subsection (a)(3) may not exceed $10,000 for each entire, distinct controversy, without regard to the number of members or other persons within a religious group who claim injury as a result of the government agency’s exercise of governmental authority. A claimant is not entitled to recover exemplary damages under this chapter. (c) An action under this section must be brought in district court. (d) A person may not bring an action for damages or declaratory or injunctive relief against an individual, other than an action brought against an individual acting in the individual’s official capacity as an officer of a government agency. (e) This chapter does not affect the application of Section 498.0045 or 501.008, Government Code, or Chapter 14 of this code.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.006. NOTICE; RIGHT TO ACCOMMODATE. (a) A person may not bring an action to assert a claim under this chapter unless, 60 days before bringing the action, the person gives written notice to the government agency by certified mail, return receipt requested: (1) that the person’s free exercise of religion is substantially burdened by an exercise of the government agency’s governmental authority; (2) of the particular act or refusal to act that is burdened; and (3) of the manner in which the exercise of governmental authority burdens the act or refusal to act. (b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a claimant may, within the 60-day period established by Subsection (a), bring an action for declaratory or injunctive relief and associated attorney’s fees, court costs, and other reasonable expenses, if: (1) the exercise of governmental authority that threatens to substantially burden the person’s free exercise of religion is imminent; and (2) the person was not informed and did not otherwise have knowledge of the exercise of the governmental authority in time to reasonably provide the notice. (c) A government agency that receives a notice under Subsection (a) may remedy the substantial burden on the person’s free exercise of religion. (d) A remedy implemented by a government agency under this section: (1) may be designed to reasonably remove the substantial burden on the person’s free exercise of religion; (2) need not be implemented in a manner that results in an exercise of governmental authority that is the least restrictive means of furthering the governmental interest, notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter; and (3) must be narrowly tailored to remove the particular burden for which the remedy is implemented. (e) A person with respect to whom a substantial burden on the person’s free exercise of religion has been cured by a remedy implemented under this section may not bring an action under Section 110.005. (f) A person who complies with an inmate grievance system as required under Section 501.008, Government Code, is not required to provide a separate written notice under Subsection (a). In conjunction with the inmate grievance system, the government agency may remedy a substantial burden on the person’s free exercise of religion in the manner described by, and subject to, Subsections (c), (d), and (e). (g) In dealing with a claim that a person’s free exercise of religion has been substantially burdened in violation of this chapter, an inmate grievance system, including an inmate grievance system required under Section 501.008, Government Code, must provide to the person making the claim a statement of the government agency’s rationale for imposing the burden, if any exists, in connection with any adverse determination made in connection with the claim.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.007. ONE-YEAR LIMITATIONS PERIOD. (a) A person must bring an action to assert a claim for damages under this chapter not later than one year after the date the person knew or should have known of the substantial burden on the person’s free exercise of religion. (b) Mailing notice under Section 110.006 tolls the limitations period established under this section until the 75th day after the date on which the notice was mailed.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.008. SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY WAIVED. (a) Subject to Section 110.006, sovereign immunity to suit and from liability is waived and abolished to the extent of liability created by Section 110.005, and a claimant may sue a government agency for damages allowed by that section. (b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), this chapter does not waive or abolish sovereign immunity to suit and from liability under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.009. EFFECT ON RIGHTS. (a) This chapter does not authorize a government agency to burden a person’s free exercise of religion. (b) The protection of religious freedom afforded by this chapter is in addition to the protections provided under federal law and the constitutions of this state and the United States. This chapter may not be construed to affect or interpret Section 4, 5, 6, or 7, Article I, Texas Constitution.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.010. APPLICATION TO CERTAIN CASES. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a municipality has no less authority to adopt or apply laws and regulations concerning zoning, land use planning, traffic management, urban nuisance, or historic preservation than the authority of the municipality that existed under the law as interpreted by the federal courts before April 17, 1990. This chapter does not affect the authority of a municipality to adopt or apply laws and regulations as that authority has been interpreted by any court in cases that do not involve the free exercise of religion.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.011. CIVIL RIGHTS. (a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), this chapter does not establish or eliminate a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution under a federal or state civil rights law. (b) This chapter is fully applicable to claims regarding the employment, education, or volunteering of those who perform duties, such as spreading or teaching faith, performing devotional services, or internal governance, for a religious organization. For the purposes of this subsection, an organization is a religious organization if: (1) the organization’s primary purpose and function are religious, it is a religious school organized primarily for religious and educational purposes, or it is a religious charity organized primarily for religious and charitable purposes; and (2) it does not engage in activities that would disqualify it from tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as it existed on August 30, 1999.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

Sec. 110.012. GRANT TO RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION NOT AFFECTED. Notwithstanding Section 110.002(b), this chapter does not affect the grant or denial of an appropriation or other grant of money or benefits to a religious organization, nor does it affect the grant or denial of a tax exemption to a religious organization.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

2015 Pending RFRA Legislation

HJR 55 and SJR 10 – replace “substantial burden” with “any burden” and make the RFRA a state constitutional amendment, not a statute as it currently is.

S.J.R. No. 10 Bill Text:

A JOINT RESOLUTION proposing a constitutional amendment relating to an individual’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion. BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1. Section 6, Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 6. (a) All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No man shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship. (b) Government may not burden an individual’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion or right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief unless the government proves that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. For purposes of this subsection, the term “burden” includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, and denying access to facilities or programs. (c) But it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary to protect equally every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship. SECTION 2. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 3, 2015. The ballot shall be printed to provide for voting for or against the proposition: “The constitutional amendment relating to an individual’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion.”


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.