What You Need To Know About Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse and The Child Victims Act

The statute of limitations to file a sexual abuse claim is integral to ensuring individuals receive justice for their suffering. Here’s what you need to know about the Pennsylvania Child Victims Act.

A statute of limitations enforces a period for any party to bring an action forward for legal proceedings. For most crimes, an individual wanting to report an offense must do so within two years of the event. However, the statute of limitations contains exceptions for certain crimes, including sexual abuse. The Pennsylvania legislature removed the criminal statute of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse, yet it only applies to new cases from 2019 onwards. The revision still disadvantages survivors whose time frames ended before they had the opportunity to initiate legal proceedings against their abuser.

Understanding the Legal Revisions to Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations

Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations remains a very contentious issue concerning sex offenses. A person must bring criminal accusations in Pennsylvania forward within two years of the act, but certain exceptions for sexual crimes intend to favor justice for victims.

Related: Back Child Support Laws in Pennsylvania

The statute of limitations provides a twelve-year period to report offenses related to the following:

  • Rape,
  • Statutory sexual assault,
  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse,
  • Sexual assault,
  • Aggravated assault, and/or
  • Incest.

Victims, survivors, activists, and experts have long advocated for the legal restructuring of criminal sexual offenses. While those who have experienced sexual abuse carry the trauma of the horrific acts committed against them, insufficient support systems cause severe underreporting and often exacerbate survivors’ unreconciled trauma. Victims often bear not only the emotional, physical, or psychological burdens of sexual abuse but also incredible legal burdens. For children especially, coming to terms with sexual abuse is a long process and requires victims to first recognize acts as such.

Related: Pennsylvania Child Support Laws

The child victims act in Pennsylvania renders a change to the statute of limitations for sex offenses committed against a minor under the age of 18. The time frame for reporting sexual abuse does not begin until the victim turns 18, and the individual has until age 55 to pursue legal proceedings. The rectification occurred in response to vast revelations of sexual abuse of children in long-standing institutions such as the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts. However, the state has not yet established a retroactive adjustment for sex offenses against minors before 2019.

FAQs About Pennsylvania Child Victims Act: Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations

Why is Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations important for child victims of sexual abuse?

The state of limitations allows individuals who were victims of sexual abuse as minors until age 55 to pursue legal proceedings. The time frame means child sex offenders can receive justice for their conduct indefinitely.

How does Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations apply to sexual abuse against minors occurring prior to 2019?

Unfortunately, the state is still attempting to eliminate the statute’s selective applicability. Amendments for a retroactive time frame are a constitutional issue, and Pennsylvania has yet to institute legal courses of action for victims of sexual abuse that took place before the statute changed in 2019.

What about the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of individuals 18 years or older?

Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for sexual crimes such as rape and other forms of assault is twelve years if committed against an adult.

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If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Pennsylvania Child Victims Act, get your free consultation with one of our Family Law Attorneys in Pennsylvania today!