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 West Virginia, the SOL for civil child sex abuse claims is capped at age 20 (age of majority, 18, plus 2 years). There is also a discovery rule, which allows victims to file claims up to two years after discovering an injury caused by the abuse.
SOL vs. perp: +2 years from majority = Age 20 SOL vs. employer: +2 years from majority = Age 20
Majority Tolling: Age 18 Discovery Tolling: Liberal (+2 years)
SOL : +2 years from majority or liberal discovery, subject to a 20 year SOR.
West Virginia State Law Provides:
Personal actions not otherwise provided for
Every personal action for which no limitation is otherwise prescribed shall be brought: (a) Within two years next after the right to bring the same shall have accrued, if it be for damage to property; (b) within two years next after the right to bring the same shall have accrued if it be for damages for personal injuries; and (c) within one year next after the right tobring the same shall have accrued if it be for any other matter of such nature that, in case a party die, it could not have been brought at common law by or against his personal representative.
W. Va. Code §55-2-12
Majority, yes. 18.
If any person to whom the right accrues to bring any personal action other than an action described in subsection (a) of this section, suit or scire facias, or any bill to repeal a grant, shall be, at the time the same accrues, an infant or insane, the same may be brought within the like number of years after his or her becoming of full age or sane that is allowed to a person having no such impediment to bring the same after the right accrues, or after such acknowledgment as is mentioned in section eight of this article, except that it shall in no case be brought after twenty years from the time when the right accrues.
W. Va. Code § 55-2-15(b)
Application of discovery rule does not require a showing by the plaintiff that some action by the defendant prevented the plaintiff from knowing of the wrong at the time of the injury
Dunn v. Rockwell, 689 S.E.2d 255, 264 (W. Va. 2009)
The ‘discovery rule’ is generally applicable to all torts, unless there is a clear statutory prohibition of its application.” Syl. pt. 2, Cart v. Marcum, 188 W. Va. 241, 423 S.E.2d 644. There is no statutory prohibition to applying the discovery rule in the instant case.
Merrill v. W. Va. Dep’t of Health & Human Res., 219 W. Va. 151, 156 n.9, 632 S.E.2d 307, 312 n.9 (W. Va. 2006)
Current Criminal SOL
In West Virginia, there is no criminal SOL.
NONE, for felonies and misdemeanors. State v. King, 140 W. Va. 362, 367, 84 S.E.2d 313, 316 (W. Va. 1954) (Noting “the felony charged in the indictment is subject to no limitation.”)
West Virginia State Law Provides:
The felony charged in the indictment is subject to no limitation.
State v. King, 140 W. Va. 362, 367, 84 S.E.2d 313, 316 (W. Va. 1954)
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See, W. Va. Code Ann. § 2-3-1.
Age of Consent: 16. See, W. Va. Code Ann. § 61-8B-2.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 (under 16 with judicial consent).
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See, W. Va. Code Ann. § 48-2-301.
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is no religious exemption to criminal liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith.
West Virginia Civil Statute:
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
A parent shall not be held liable for murder, child neglect, or child neglect resulting in death solely for providing spiritual treatment in accordance with a recognized religious denomination to which the parent is a member.
West Virginia Criminal Statute:
WEST VIRGINIA defenses to murder, criminal child neglect, and child neglect resulting in death
The provisions of this statute [which define the offense of murder of a child by refusal or failure to supply necessities] shall not apply to any parent, guardian or custodian who fails or refuses, or allows another person to fail or refuse, to supply a child under the care, custody or control of such parent, guardian or custodian with necessary medical care, when such medical care conflicts with the tenets and practices of a recognized religious denomina¬tion or order of which such parent, guardian or custodian is an adherent or member.
West Virginia Code §61-8D-2(d)
This section [on criminal child neglect] shall not apply to any parent, guardian or custodian who fails or refuses, or allows another person to fail or refuse, to supply a child under the care, custody or control of such parent, guardian or custodian with necessary medical care, when such medical care conflicts with the tenets and practices of a recognized religious denomination or order of which such parent, guardian or custodian is an adherent or member.
West Virginia Code §61-8D-4(d)
No child who in lieu of medical treatment was under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with a recognized method of religious healing with a reason¬able proven record of success shall, for that reason alone, be consi¬dered to have been neglected within the provisions of this section [on child abuse resulting in death]. A method of religious healing shall be presumed to be a recog¬nized method of religious healing if fees and expenses incurred in connection with such treatment are permitted to be deducted from taxable income as “medical expenses” pursuant to regulations or rules promulgated by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
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.