Sex Crimes Statute of Limitation

Increasingly, prosecutors in the Los Angeles area are filing sex crimes charges against defendants for offenses that happened many years, or even decades, earlier. As a result, many people facing sex crimes prosecutions frequently ask about the statute of limitations for these types of offenses. A statute of limitations is the time limit under which a prosecutor can legally file criminal charges against a defendant.

Recent Changes in Statute of Limitations for Major Sex Crime Offenses

Recently, California has abolished the statute of limitations for a number of serious sex crime offenses. Previously, the only crimes that had no statute of limitation were murder and embezzlement of public funds.

However, the California legislature has also added several sex crimes to the list of offenses that can be prosecuted at any time. This includes forcible rape under Penal Code § 261, rape in concert pursuant to Penal Code § 264.1, and continuous sexual abuse of a child in violation of Penal Code § 288.5. This new law applies to offenses committed after January 1, 2017 and to offenses occurring prior to January 1, 2017 in which the statute of limitations had not run as of the January 1, 2017 date.

Special Statute of Limitations for Offenses Committed Against Minors

Regardless of any of limitation in place, certain sex crimes committed against minors under the age of 18 can be commenced at any time prior to the victim’s 40th birthday. This includes forcible rape pursuant to Penal Code Section 261, oral copulation in violation of Penal Code Section 287, lewd acts on a minor under Penal Code Section 288 or penetration by an objection under Penal Code § 289. This section applies to crimes that were committed on or after January 1, 2015 or for crimes occurring before this date but whose statute of limitations had not run as of January 1, 2015.

This statute allows for criminal prosecution for cases in which a minor was sexually abused and came to terms with the abuse later in life.

Ten-Year Statue of Limitations for Other Sex Crimes

Under Penal Code Section 801.1(b), the statute of limitations for any other felony sex offense not covered in a code section described above and listed in Penal Code Section 290(c) is ten years. This is also the list of crimes that requires registration as a sex offender if convicted. This does not apply to offenses that are not listed in Section 290(c), such as distributing harmful material to a minor in violation of Penal Code § 288.2(a)(1). This also would not apply to misdemeanor sex offenses that require registration such as sexual battery under Penal Code Section 243.4 or annoying or molesting a minor in violation of Penal Code Section 647.6.

If you or a loved one have been accused of a sex offense occurring many years, or even decades ago, it is absolutely critical that you discuss your case with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut understands the complexities surrounding sex crimes statute of limitations and understands how to effectively fight these types of cases on behalf of his clients. In many cases, Mr. Kraut’s early intervention has led to criminal charges being rejected or significantly reduced.

For more information about sex crimes and the statute of limitations, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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