1-05 Statutes of Limitation on Crimes


  • FindLaw Introduction to State Statutes of Limitations
  • RAINN State Law Database on Criminal Statutes of Limitations
  • Efforts to Change Statutes of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse Crimes

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FindLaw Introduction to State Statutes of Limitations

I occasionally use the FindLaw site to research background information on legal and criminal issues. Their page on Time Limits for Charges: State Criminal Statutes of Limitations gives this definition:

A statute of limitation is a law which forbids prosecutors from charging someone with a crime that was committed more than a specified number of years ago. The general purpose of statutes of limitation is to make sure convictions occur only upon evidence (physical or eyewitness) that has not deteriorated with time. After the period of the statute has run, the criminal is essentially free.

The kinds of crimes with statutes of limitation vary by state. FindLaws page on this topic contains a chart with state-by-state details. (It also includes the District of Columbia, but not US territories.) Columns in the chart are:

  • State.
  • Code Section.
  • Felonies – kinds or categories of crimes and the length of the statute of limitation.
  • Misdemeanors – kinds or categories of crimes and the length of the statute of limitation.
  • Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run. For instance, there may be an extension on the statute of limitation if the alleged perpetrator flees that state; or if there is stolen, lost, or destroyed information.

This chart is useful to find general information about which states have statutes of limitation for crimes involving sex and/or violence.

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RAINN State Law Database on Criminal Statutes of Limitations

The RAINN State Law Database offers information in the following topics:

  1. Rape and Sexual Assault Crime Definitions.
  2. Consent – determining consent.
  3. Mandatory Reporting – known or suspected abuse (1) of children, (2) of elderly or disabled.
  4. Criminal Statutes of Limitations.
  5. Termination of Rapists’ Parental Rights – limits on rapists’ parental rights.
  6. Confidentiality Laws – confidentiality protections.
  7. HIV/AIDS Testing of Sex Offenders – HIV/AIDS testing requirements.

For more details, plus instructions on how to research topics on that site, see the section on RAINN State Law Database on page 1-01 Child Abuse, Neglect, and Sexual Abuse.

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Is it too late to prosecute a crime committed years ago? ~ RAINN/Statutes

In the RAINN comparison database on Criminal Statutes of Limitations, there is one chart for each state, territory, or District of Columbia; with information on each relevant criminal issue on a separate box within the chart.

What appears in the specific sections for each state/territory mirrors the way its laws on sexual crimes is organized. For instance, California had 18 individual types of crimes listed. Oregon had 12 individual types of crime, most of them with first, second, and third degree differences in punishment. Perusing the databases on a few states shows that most issues covered fall into the following crime categories of felonies and misdemeanors.

  • Forced sexual acts, including spousal rape; false or fraudulent representation to coerce sexual involvement.
  • Sexual behaviors considered illegitimate, incest.
  • Child sexual abuse, sexual contact with a minor or child up to a certain age*, engaging children to create visual or print pornography.
  • Enticement or seduction of a minor, such as: internet stalking of a minor; sexting; arranging a meeting with a minor; coaxing a minor into a vehicle, house, etc., for immoral purposes; or transporting a minor for lewd or lascivious acts; exposing child to sexually explicit material.
  • Purchasing sex, procuring sex, sex trafficking.

*Note that the specified age of a child who is victimized may vary between states. the most often mentioned were “minor,” and ages 12 or 14.

Regardless of the distinctive set up of categories for crimes in a particular state, each criminal act listed in the state chart has a box with answers to two items:

  • What is the statute of limitations for this crime?
  • Statutory citation(s).

To see the information, click on the “+” plus sign to show the details, and the “-” hyphen/minus sign to hide the details.



The advantage of using the “compare all” option is that you can quickly move through the states, and leave multiple boxes in different states open, in order to compare.

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Efforts to Change Statutes of Limitations

for Child Sexual Abuse Crimes

States are trying to make it easier to punish the next Larry Nassar, by Carter Sherman. Vice News; March 16, 2018.

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