The state of Texas imposes statutes of limitations, or deadlines, on bringing charges against someone for a sex crime. These crimes include but are not limited to sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual abuse of a minor and kidnapping with intent to abuse sexually.
Time is of the essence in sex crime cases. The statute of limitations helps to maintain the integrity of the evidence. Learn the answers to 5 common questions people have surrounding the statutes of limitations for sex crimes in Texas.
Q: What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is an established deadline for a person or the state to file an action on a legal matter. Statutes of limitations vary depending on the state. This deadline gives plaintiffs a date by which they can take legal action if they so choose. It also serves to give possible defendants a timeline by which they will no longer face possible prosecution or a civil lawsuit.
Q: What is the statute of limitations for sex crimes against adults?
Two types of statutes of limitations exist: civil and criminal. The criminal statute of limitations in Texas for rape and other sexual assaults involving a victim who is 18 years of age and older is 10 years from the date of the offense.
The civil statute of limitations involving victims of sex crimes that are 18 and older is 5 years.
Exceptions to these statutes involve cases where a suspect hasn’t been identified and cases that involve a serial rapist. For these situations, no statute of limitations exists.
Q: What is the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children?
Texas has understandably imposed longer statutes of limitations for these situations involving children for civil and criminal cases.
For criminal cases involving minors under 17 at the time of the assault, the criminal statute of limitations is 20 years from the 18th birthday of the victim.
In civil cases involving minors under 17 at the time of the assault, the statute of limitations is anywhere from 10-20 years from the victim’s 18th birthday.
Q: What is the statute of limitations for sex crimes involving unknown perpetrators?
As stated above, there is no statute of limitations on sex crimes where the identity of the perpetrator is unknown. The victim can file a “John Doe” lawsuit in this case.
But once the victim finds out the identity of the attacker, he or she has 30 days to amend the complaint to include the name of the person(s).
Q: What if I’m facing a sex crime charge in Texas?
The first thing that you must do when facing a sex crime charge is to secure a knowledgeable, experienced Texas criminal defense attorney that can guide you through this situation and ensure your best outcome. Read up and educate yourself on your rights as well as the process.
The better prepared you and your team are, the better results you’ll receive.