There are approximately 237,868 new victims of sexual assault each year, leading to a new case every two minutes. This serious problem requires immediate legal action, especially since cases often go unreported for years.
The statute of limitations in California for criminal cases differs depending on when and how the crime was committed. It’s important to understand how these timelines apply to sex offender crimes to ensure that you or someone you love can get their case to court before it expires.
Read our guide to find what constitutes a sex offender crime and the resulting statute of limitations in California.
Understanding Sex Crimes
Sexual violence is any unwanted, non-mutual sexual activity. Examples include incest, rape, threats, abuse of minors, and sex trafficking.
Almost every sex crime is a felony, leading to a longer sentence than a less severe misdemeanor.
There are several myths surrounding sexual violence.
In California, 5.6 million women have been victims of sexual violence other than rape, but so have three million men. 75 percent of victims are attacked by family or friends in safe areas. Only two percent of sexual violence accusations are proven false, no higher than any other felony.
Sex Crime Statute of Limitations in California
A statute of limitations is the time between when a crime occurs and when the victim can legally try the case.
Almost 85 percent of rapes go unreported. Victims may fear for their lives or the safety of their loved ones. In California, the time it takes for a victim to report a sex crime doesn’t affect the statute of limitations.
Some sex offender crimes are so serious they don’t have a statute of limitations. This allows victims to develop a case at any time. Examples include aggravated assault of a minor or sex with a minor 10 years old or younger.
For other serious offenses, the statute of limitations for sex offender crimes can be 21 years or more.
There’s a three-year statute of limitations for incest, content sent with the intent to seduce a minor, and unlawful intercourse with a minor. There is a six-year statute of limitations for rape, spousal rape, transporting a minor with intent to commit a sex crime, and sodomy with a foreign object.
Still have questions about California’s policy towards sex offender crimes and where to get help if you have a case? Read more here.
Exceptions to California’s Sex Crime Statute of Limitations
Several states allow an extension of a statute of limitations in certain cases.
One example is when new DNA evidence becomes available. California allows for an extra year so new suspects can be prosecuted.
Other exceptions exist, and sex crime laws are constantly changing. That’s why it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest news on how and when to file a case.
What Sex Crime Victims Should Do Next
The statute of limitations in California for sex crimes depends on the type of crime committed, the age of the victim, and other factors. Exceptions like new DNA evidence may extend them, and some cases can be tried at any time.
If you or someone you know becomes a victim of a sex crime, there are two major steps you should take. First, stay up-to-date on all current sex crime laws. Second, get the best possible lawyer to fight for you when taking the case to court.
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