Child Abuse Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations (or SOL) is the maximum amount of time one has to bring a lawsuit from the time of the injury or other ground for a lawsuit. Many offenders may not know that like murder, there is often no statute of limitations on sexual child abuse in some states. In other states, the statute of limitations kicks in starting when the child becomes a legal adult. So its possible that criminal charges could still be filed.. This means an abused child can come forward much later in life and still prosecute and in many instances, imprison the abuser.
The applicable laws and length of the statute of limitations depends upon the location of the offense. For instance, when it comes to child abuse, there is no statute of limitations in Canada. Whether the child abuse occurred 5 minutes ago, 5 weeks ago, 5 or 50 years ago, an offender can still be charged. In the United States, the statute of limitations depends upon the laws of the state that the offense occurred in.
Regardless of whether or not the statute of limitations has run, it is possible to file a report to CPS (Child Protective Services) so that the offender can be stopped.
Statute of limitations (SOL) laws for child abuse, like sex offender registries, are hotly debated. Some believe that there should be a limit to the amount of time a abused victim can take action against their offender. Others feel that the clock should not start ticking until the victim reaches a mature age and has had time to understand that what was done to them was wrong. And some feel that given the nature of the crime, time should be allowed for the victim to overcome intimidation, fear, and embarrassment and obtain enough self confidence to stand up and be heard.
Note that the statute of limitations applies differently to civil and criminal cases. Criminal case statute of limitations dictates how long law enforcement has to take action against an offender. Civil statutes specify the length of time the victim has to take legal action (such as a lawsuit).
You will find a complete list of the statute of limitation for each state here. Keep in mind that these laws change often and you should contact your legal counsel for the most current information regarding SOL laws in your state.