In Texas, the laws against sexual abuse and other sex crimes are very strict. While different states have varying statutes of limitations pertaining to these offenses, laws in the Lone Star State differ according to the crime.
However, things are treated harshly if the victim of the sex offense was a minor.
In California, for instance, a Pasadena man was arrested for sexual assault against a minor that occurred in 1999. The man was in his early 20s while the victim was 8 years old at the time of the offense. The statute of limitations was still in effect for the crime.
What is the statute of limitations for sex crimes in Texas?
The statute of limitations for sex crimes in Texas is 10 years if the crime was committed against a person 18 years of age or older. However, when it involves the sex assault of a minor, the rules are different; there is no criminal statute of limitations in such cases.
As a result, a person who committed a sex crime against a child can be prosecuted no matter how many years have passed since the commission of that crime.
The formula for the criminal statute of limitations in Texas is that the more serious the offense, the longer the statute of limitations. This applies to crimes such as manslaughter or murder, in addition to sex crimes against minors.
Civil vs. criminal cases and legal deadlines
Both criminal and civil cases can be filed in Texas for child sex crimes. Regardless of the type of sex crime against a minor child, there is no statute of limitations for criminal cases.
Civil cases also carry longer statutes of limitations. For these cases, that period of time is 15 years and the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run out until after the victim has reached their 18th birthday.
Other states are enforcing similar statutes of limitations
Other states are removing the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse as well, following Texas’ example:
- In Colorado, there is now no statute of limitations to bring forth a lawsuit for childhood sex abuse. As a result, those who suffered abuse as children can file civil lawsuits against their abusers. This law won’t go into effect until January 1, 2022, and doesn’t apply to victims whose statutes of limitations have already expired.
- In New York, the New York Child Victims Act extends the statute of limitations for child sex abuse criminal cases. Victims are able to file lawsuits against their abusers before they reach their 55th birthdays. This law has enabled around 10,000 survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers over the past 2 years.
- In Utah, there is no statute of limitations for victims filing a civil lawsuit against their abuser for sexual abuse they suffered as children.
These extensions in statutes of limitations—and no time limit in sex crime cases against minors—is intended to encourage more survivors to come forward and file lawsuits against their abusers. However, this also opens up people to prosecution decades after the alleged crime occurred. For those accused, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is vital.