What You Need to Know About the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault Cases By State

The statute of limitations refers to the legal deadline a state allows an individual for filing lawsuits such as sexual assault cases. The statute of limitations allotted for sexual assault cases vary and may differ by state. Below are each state’s sexual assault statute of limitations.

The distinction between civil and criminal cases appears in the chart below. The government brings criminal cases against a citizen to determine if the defendant is guilty of a criminal offense. A citizen brings civil cases against another citizen or business to determine if the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s damages. Contact an experienced sexual assault attorney to most accurately determine the best distinction.

Individuals should note there are varying statutes of limitations depending on the type of criminal charge for sexual assault brought in a certain state. Listed below are the statute of limitations for an individual bringing a felony sexual assault charge in every state.

Related: Sexual Coercion vs Sexual Assault: What’s the Difference?

Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations by State

State Civil Cases Criminal Cases (Felony Charges or Most Serious Cases) Exceptions for DNA evidence?
Alabama 2 years 21 years or more No
Alaska 3 years 21 years or more No
Arizona 2 years 21 years or more No
Arkansas 3 years 21 years or more Yes

If DNA evidence leads to the identification of an offender, no statute of limitations exists

California 10 years for adults OR 3 years from the date of discovery if the incident occurred earlier than 2019

In cases of minors until their 40th birthday OR within 5 years of their discovery of the abuse

21 years or more Yes

The state extends the statute of limitations one year after DNA identifies a suspect

Colorado None 11-20 years Yes

For certain crimes, if the victim reports within 10 years and the defendant is identified, no statute of limitations exists

Connecticut No time limit for sexual assault of the first-degree

3 years

10 years or less Yes

For certain crimes, if the victim reports within five years and the defendant is identified, no statute of limitations exists

Delaware 2 years

No time limit for cases involving minors

21 years or more. Yes

For certain crimes with a five year statute of limitations, the state extends the statute of limitations to ten years with DNA evidence

District of Columbia (D.C.) 3 years

If the victim was a minor, they have until their 21st birthday

11-20 years No
Florida 4 years after leaving the dependency of the abuser or from the time of discovery (whichever occurs later)

If the victim was a minor, they have until 7 years after reaching the “age of majority” (18)

8 years for a first or second-degree felony sexual battery

No limit for sexual battery involving a minor under 16 years old

No limit in first or second-degree felony sexual battery cases reported to authorities within 72 hours

10 years or less Yes

If the sex offense occurred after 2006 and identifies a suspect with DNA evidence, no statute of limitations exists

Georgia 2 years

If the victim is a minor, they have until 5 years after reaching the “age of majority.”

If the victim is 65 or older, the clock does not begin until a person reports the crime to authorities.

11-20 years Yes

For certain offenses, no statute of limitations exists if DNA identifies the perpetrator

Hawaii 2 years

The statute of limitations pauses if the victim is a minor until they turn 18

10 years or less Yes

If a perpetrator DNA match is found within 10 years, then 10 years is added

Idaho 2 years

If the victim was a minor, they have 5 years after reaching the “age of majority” (age 23) to file a civil action so long as the incident occurred on or after July 1, 1989.

21 years or more No
Illinois 2 years

No limits in Class X or Class 1 felony cases (aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault) or incidents involving minors.

10 years or less Yes

If the victim reports within three years of the crime and the perpetrator’s DNA evidence appears in the state’s database within 10 years of the crime and it does not identify the perpetrator, no statute of limitations exists

Indiana 2 years

For minors, either 7 years from the date of the incident, or 4 years from the end of dependency on the abuser.

21 years or more Yes

The state extends the statute of limitations to one year after the state first discovers DNA evidence sufficient to charge the perpetrator

Iowa 2 years

For minors, 5 years from the date of discovery (applies to all cases where the incident occurred after July 1, 1990).

In cases involving a school employee, counselor or therapist, victims have 5 years from the date of last treatment/enrollment to file a civil action.

10 years or less Yes

After DNA evidence identifies the perpetrator, the state increases the statute of limitations to within three years of identification

Kansas 2 years

For minors, within 3 years of achieving adulthood or from discovery, whichever occurs later.

21 years or more Yes

The state extends the statute of limitations for any sexually violent offense to one year after DNA evidence identifies the perpetrator

Kentucky 1 year

For minors, 5 years after either the most recent incident, discovery or achieving adulthood, whichever occurs later.

None No
Louisiana 1 year

For minors, 10 years after achieving adulthood, or 1 year from discovery.

21 years or more Yes

The state increases the statute of limitations by three years after DNA evidence identifies the perpetrator

Maine 2 years

No limit for crimes against minors under age 16.

10 years or less No
Maryland 3 years

For minors, 7 years after reaching the “age of majority.”

None No
Massachusetts 3 years

For minors, they must bring a claim within 35 years of the incident or 7 years from when the person discovered or could have been reasonably expected to discover the incident. (The time does not begin until the victim turns 18.)

11-20 years No
Michigan 2 years 21 years or more Yes

If DNA evidence exists without identifying the perpetrator, no statute of limitations exists. Once identification through DNA is confirmed, there is a statute of limitations of 10 years

Minnesota 6 years from when the victim knew or had reason to know that the sexual abuse caused the injury

For minors, the time does not begin until the victim turns 19 and terminates at age 25.

10 years or less Yes

No statute of limitations exists the state is collecting and preserving DNA evidence

Mississippi 3 years

For minors, the time does not begin until the victim turns 18.

21 years or more No
Missouri 5 years

For minors, 10 years after turning 21 or 3 years from discovery, whichever occurs later.

21 years or more No
Montana 3 years

For minors, 3 years after discovery.

10 years or less Yes

If DNA evidence identifies the suspect after the statute of limitations expires, prosecutors have an additional year to file charges

Nebraska 4 years

For minors, the time does not begin until age 21.

21 years or more No
Nevada 2 years

For minors, within 10 years of turning 18 (age 28) or 10 years from discovery.

10 years or less No
New Hampshire 3 years

For minors, 12 years after their 18th birthday (age 30) or 3 years from discovery.

10 years or less No
New Jersey 2 years

For minors, the time begins the moment a reasonable person would have discovered the offense.

21 years or more Yes

If DNA evidence leads to identifying a suspect, then the statute of limitations begins when the state has  the evidence leading to the initial identification of the suspect in possession

New Mexico 3 years

For minors, they must file a claim before their 24th birthday or 3 years from discovery, whichever comes first.

21 years or more Yes

If DNA evidence exists but no suspect identification, the statute of limitations does not start until the state identifies the suspect

New York 5 years 21 years or more Yes

Established through case law

North Carolina 3 years None No
North Dakota 2 years

For minors, 10 years from the point of reasonable discovery.

10 years or less Yes

If DNA identifies the suspect, the statute of limitations extends for three years after identification

Ohio 2 years

For minors, 12 years from the victim’s 18th birthday.

11-20 years Yes

If present, a John Doe indictment based on DNA evidence adds time to the statute of limitations 

Oklahoma 2 years

For minors, the time starts at the victim’s 18th birthday or 5 years after the police release the perpetrator from custody, whichever occurs later.

11-20 years Yes

If the person reports the crime within 12 years of the occurrence and a DNA match exists, the statute of limitations extends three years

Oregon 2 years

For minors, they must file a claim before they reach age 40 or 5 years from discovery, whichever occurs later.

11-20 years Yes

If DNA evidence identifies a suspect after the statute of limitations has expired, they can change based on degree of charge

Pennsylvania 2 years

For minors, 12 years from reaching the “age of majority.”

11-20 years Yes

The statute of limitations extends to one year after DNA establishes the identity of a perpetrator

Rhode Island 3 years

For minors, 7 years from the incident or from the point of discovery, whichever occurs later.

21 years or more No
South Carolina  3 years

For minors, 6 years from their 21st birthday, or 3 years from discovery.

None No
South Dakota 3 years

For minors, within 3 years of the incident or discovery.

21 years or more No
Tennessee 1 year

For minors, the time begins on the victim’s 18th birthday.

11-20 years No
Texas 2-5 years

For minors, the time begins on the victim’s 18th birthday.

No limitation in cases involving a serial rapist.

10 years or less Yes

No statute of limitations exists if DNA identifies an unknown suspect

Utah 4 years

No limit for minors

21 years or more Yes

No statute of limitations exists if DNA identifies an unknown suspect

Vermont 3 years

For minors, within 6 years of the act or discovery.

21 years or more No
Virginia 2 years

For minors, the time starts on their 18th birthday

None No
Washington 3 years

For minors, the time starts on their 18th birthday and the victim must file the claim within 3 years of the alleged act or discovery.

10 years or less Yes

The statute of limitations extends one year after DNA establishes the perpetrator’s identity

West Virginia 2 years

For minors, the time starts on the victim’s 18th birthday.

None No
Wisconsin 2 years

For minors, they must file the claim before the age of 35.

21 years or more Yes

In certain circumstances, if the state collects and analyzes DNA evidence, the statute of limitations increases for a short period of time

Wyoming 4 years None No

Related: Is a Forced Kiss Sexual Assault?

All information above is accurate as of June 16th, 2022. State statutes regarding statute of limitations for civil and criminal cases of sexual assault are subject to change based on degree and many have exceptions outside of DNA evidence. Individuals should consult the state website where the incident occurred for further information on the statute of limitations for both civil and criminal sexual assault cases. Consult with a qualified and knowledgeable sexual assault attorney to file a sexual assault case.

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