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 Wyoming, the SOL for child sex abuse claims is capped at age 26 (age of majority, 18, plus 6 years). There is also a discovery rule, which allows victims up to 3 years to file a claim after discovering an injury caused by the abuse..
SOL vs. perp: +8 years from majority = Age 26
SOL vs. employer: +8 years from majority = Age 26
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Yes (+3 years from discovery)
SOL: +8 years from majority, or +3 years from liberal discovery.
Wyoming State Law Provides:
Actions other than recovery of real property,
Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a civil action based upon sexual assault as defined by W.S. 6-2-301(a)(v) against a minor may be brought within the later of:
(i) Eight (8) years after the minor’s eighteenth birthday; or
(ii) Three (3) years after the discovery.
Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-105 (b)
Majority. Yes, 18
If a person entitled to bring any action except for an action arising from error or omission in the rendering of licensed or certified professional or health care services or for a penalty or forfeiture, is, at the time the cause of action accrues, a minor or subject to any other legal disability, the person may bring the action within three (3) years after the disability is None or within any other statutory period of limitation, whichever is greater.
Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-114 (2010)
Discovery, yes, liberal/causal.
If the trial court or the jury is satisfied that psychic trauma has been proximately caused by a sexual assault upon a minor, and medical science could not recognize that trauma, or its final consequences could not be forecast, the period of limitations described in the statute does not begin to run until the damage is identified. The factual issue then to be resolved is whether a party…discovered or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered the psychic trauma. That factual resolution would establish the date on which the statute of limitations begins to run for purposes of a claim for sexual assault against a minor.
McCreary v. Weast, 971 P.2d 974, 981 (Wyo. 1999)
Under the discovery rule as adopted in Wyoming, the statute of limitations will typically run from the date of the incident. The discovery rule can have the effect, however, of delaying the accrual of the cause of action in cases in which the injury or damage is not immediately apparent. We have said specifically that, “a tort is not complete and actionable until all the elements, duty, breach, proximate cause, and damage, are present. Davis v. City of Casper, 710 P.2d 827, 829 (Wyo. 1985). This serves to balance the equities in latent injury cases when the injured party would be barred from bringing an action only because that person was unaware of the injury.
McCreary v. Weast, 971 P.2d 974, 979 (Wyo. 1999)
Current Criminal SOL
In Wyoming, there is no criminal SOL for child sex abuse claims.
NONE for felonies or misdemeanors. Boggs v. State, 484 P.2d 711, 714, 1971 Wyo. LEXIS 216, 10 (Wyo. 1971) (“Wyoming has no statute of limitations as to the commencement of criminal proceedings.”)
Wyoming State Law Provides:
Wyoming has no statute of limitations as to the commencement of criminal proceedings.
Remmick v. State, 275 P. 3d 467, 470 (Wyo. 2012)
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See, Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-1-101(a).
Age of Consent: 16. See, Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-304.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 (under 16 with judicial consent).
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See, Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 20-1-102, 20-1-105.
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
A child shall not be considered neglected solely because their parents, in good faith, provide spiritual treatment in accordance with the practices of a recognized religious denomination.
Wyoming Civil Statute:
Treatment given in good faith by spiritual means alone, through prayer, by a duly accredited practitioner in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination is not child neglect for that reason alone.
Wyoming Statutes §14-3-202(a)(vii)
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is no religious exemption to criminal liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith.
Wyoming Civil Statute:
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
Pending 2015 Legislation
Wyoming Religious Freedom Restoration Act (H.B. 0083) – View as PDF
2015 STATE OF WYOMING 15LSO-0232
HOUSE BILL NO. HB0083
Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Sponsored by: Representative(s) Winters and Steinmetz and Senator(s) Dockstader
A BILL for AN ACT relating to religious freedom; creating a Religious Freedom Restoration Act; providing definitions; limiting specified governmental actions that burden religious freedom as specified; authorizing claims and defenses against governmental action that burden religious freedom as specified; providing for severability of the act; and providing for an effective date.
Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Wyoming:
Section 1. W.S. 1-35-201 through 1-35-205 are created to read:
Read More RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT 2015 STATE OF WYOMING
1-35-201. Religious Freedom Restoration Act; short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
(a) As used in this act:
(i) “Burden” means any action that directly or 12 indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails or denies the 13 exercise of religion or moral conscience by any individual 14 contrary to an individual’s exercise of religion, 15 including, but not limited to:
(A) Withholding of benefits;
(B) Assessing criminal, civil or administrative penalties;
(C) Exclusion from governmental programs; or
(D) Denial of access to governmental facilities.
(ii) “Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion, including an act or refusal to act, that is substantially motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not compelled by or central to 10 a system of religious belief;
(iii) “Government” means any department, agency, division, board, bureau, commission, council, authority, employee, official or other entity of this state or a political subdivision of this state, or a person acting under color of state law;
(iv) “Moral conscience” means an individual exercise of judgment whereby the person recognizes the moral or ethical quality of an act and is compelled to:
(A) Perform the act because it is an act of good will or faith; or
(B) Avoid performing the act because the person believes the act to be evil or wrong.
(v) “This act” means W.S. 1-35-201 through 1-35-206.
1-35-203. Limitation on government action; exception.
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, government action, including action by anyone acting under color of state law, shall not burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion or moral conscience, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
(b) Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion or moral conscience only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to that person’s exercise of religion or moral conscience in that particular instance is:
(i) Essential to further a compelling government interest; and
(ii) The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
1-35-204. Claims and defenses; costs; attorney’s fees.
(a) A person whose exercise of religion or moral conscience has been burdened in violation of this act may assert that violation as a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain appropriate relief, 1including equitable relief, against the government or person acting under color of state law.
(b) A court may award all or a portion of the costs of litigation under this section, including reasonable attorney’s fees, to a person who prevails against the government or a person acting under color of state law.
1-35-205. Provisions to be liberally construed.
(a) This act shall be liberally construed in favor of the broad interpretation of the exercise of religious and moral conscience to the maximum extent permitted by this act and the Wyoming constitution and the United States constitution.
(b) Nothing in this act shall be construed to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state or its laws which protect the health and safety of the public.
Section 2. If any provision of this act or any application of any provision of this act to any person or circumstances is held to be unconstitutional, the remaining provisions of this act and the application of the remaining provisions of this act to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected.
Section 3. This act is effective July 1, 2015.
H.B. 0026 – AN ACT relating to domestic relations; providing that religious officials shall not be required to perform a marriage ceremony; and providing for an effective date.
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.