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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 the District of Columbia, the civil SOL for child sex abuse claims is capped at age 25 (age of majority, 18, plus 7 years). There is also a discovery rule that allows victims to file a claim 3 years after discovering an injury caused by the abuse.


SOL vs. perp.: + 7 years from majority = Age 25
SOL vs. employer: + 7 years from majority = Age 25
Majority Tolling: Yes
Discovery Tolling: Liberal (+3 years)


District of Columbia Law Provides:

Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, actions for the following purposes may not be brought after the expiration of the period specified below from the time the right to maintain the action accrues:

(11) for the recovery of damages arising out of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was a minor -- 7 years from the date that the victim attains the age of 18, or 3 years from when the victim knew, or reasonably should have known, of any act constituting abuse, whichever is later.
D.C. Code § 12-301

Current Criminal SOL

In the District of Columbia, the criminal SOL for for child sex abuse felonies in the first and second degree is capped at age 36 (age of majority, 21, plus 15 years). The criminal SOL for for third and fourth degree sexual abuse is capped at age 31 (age of majority, 21, plus 10 years).


SOL vs. perp. (for child sex abuse felonies in the first and second degree)= +15 years from age of majority = Age 36
SOL vs. perp. (for third and fourth degree sexual abuse): +10 years from majority = Age 31


District of Columbia Law Provides:

(a) Time Limitations. -- (1) A prosecution for the following crimes may be commenced at any time:


(2) A prosecution for the following crimes and any offense that is properly joinable with any of the following crimes is barred if not commenced within fifteen (15) years after it is committed:

(A) first degree sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3002);
(B) second degree sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3003);
(C) first degree child sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3008); and
(D) second degree child sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3009).

(3) A prosecution for the following crimes and any offense that is properly joinable with any of the following crimes is barred if not commenced within ten (10) years after it is committed:

(A) third degree sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3004);
(B) fourth degree sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3005);
(C) enticing a child for the purpose of committing felony sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3010);
(D) first degree sexual abuse of a ward (D.C. Official Code § 22-3013);
(E) second degree sexual abuse of a ward (D.C. Official Code § 22-3014);
(F) first degree sexual abuse of a patient or client (D.C. Official Code § 22-3015);
(G) second degree sexual abuse of a patient or client (D.C. Official Code § 22-3016);
(H) using a minor in a sexual performance or promoting a sexual performance by a minor (D.C. Official Code § 22-3102);
(I) incest (D.C. Official Code § 22-1901); and
(J) Trafficking in labor or commercial sex and sex trafficking of children as prohibited by [D.C. Official Code §§ 22-1833 and 22-1834], respectively;
(K) Section [D.C. Official Code § 22-2704];
(L) Section [D.C. Official Code 22-2705]; and
(M) Sections [D.C. Official Code 22-2706 and 22-2708].

(4) Except as provided in paragraph (6), a prosecution for a felony other than those crimes enumerated in paragraphs (1) through (3) is barred if not commenced within six (6) years after it is committed. (5) Except as provided in paragraph (6), a prosecution for any other criminal offense is barred if not commenced within three (3) years after it is committed.

(d) Suspension of period of limitation. -- (1) The period of limitation for an offense, and any necessarily included offense, does not run during any time when a prosecution against the defendant for that offense is pending in the courts of the District of Columbia.

(2) The period of limitation shall not begin to run until the victim reaches 21 years of age for the following offenses:
(A) first degree child sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3008);
(B) second degree child sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3009);
(C) enticing a child for the purpose of committing felony sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3010); § 23-113. Limitations on actions for criminal violations., DC CODE § 23-113 © 2018 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. 4
(D) using a minor in a sexual performance or promoting a sexual performance by a minor (D.C. Official Code § 22-3102);
(E) incest (D.C. Official Code § 22-1901); and
(F) Sections [D.C. Official Code 22-3009.01 and 22-3009.02];
(G) Section [D.C. Official Code 22-2704];
(H) Section [D.C. Official Code 22-2705];
(I)Section [D.C. Official Code 22-2706], where the victim is a minor; and
(J) Forced labor, trafficking in labor or commercial sex, sex trafficking of children, and benefitting financially from human trafficking as prohibited by the Human Trafficking Act [D.C. Law 18-239], where the victim is a minor.

(3) The period of limitation shall not begin to run for first degree sexual abuse of a ward (D.C. Official Code § 22-3013) or second degree sexual abuse of a ward (D.C. Official Code § 22-3014) until the victim is no longer a ward.

(4) The period of limitation shall not begin to run for first degree sexual abuse of a patient or client (D.C. Official Code § 22-3015) or second degree sexual abuse of a patient or client (D.C. Official Code § 22-3016) until the victim is no longer a patient or client of the actor.

(5) The period of limitation shall not begin to run for forced labor, trafficking in labor or commercial sex, sex trafficking of children, and benefitting financially from human trafficking until the victim is no longer subject to the means used to obtain or maintain his or her labor or services or commercial sex acts.

D.C. Code § 23-113


DNA Provision

N/A


Medical Neglect Statute

CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE

CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE


Religous Liberty Statute

Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk


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.