2023 Statutes of Limitations Legislation Recap
The past several years have brought drastic changes to almost every state across the country on their statute of limitations on sexual abuse, sexual assault, and child molestation. Specifically, these laws set the age limit or amount of time after a person is abused that 1) the person can file a civil lawsuit for the abuse and/or 2) the government can criminally prosecute an abuser for the crime. Traditionally, these legislative limits existed to prohibit people from filing lawsuits for historical allegations that may have happened decades ago. However, as people’s awareness and outrage over the prevalence and lifelong effects of child sexual abuse has grown, as well as a better understanding of the barriers to reporting and why it can be difficult for children, youth, and even adults to report abuse, states are opening up and extending the time periods and/or revising the age limits for survivors to come forward to seek legal remedies against an organization that employed or allowed an offender to volunteer in their programs.
2023 was another critical year for important changes in how states are allowing survivors of sexual abuse and assault to report and bring justice to the abuse they have suffered. Here are some notable highlights of how this impacts survivors, organizations, and the justice system around the United States. Below is a comprehensive table showing an overview of all state Statutes of Limitation changes that took effect in 2023.
- The California Governor signed two bills into law in 2023: California’s Assembly Bill 452 (AB 452) and Senate Bill 558 (SB 558). The first eliminates the civil statute of limitations for damages suffered from childhood sexual abuse for all incidents that take place on or after January 1, 2024.1 SB558 impacts the time frame in which survivors can seek recovery of damages for incidents that occurred before January 1, 2024. Survivors can now file a claim within 22 years of the date the plaintiff turns 18 years old or within five years of the individual incurring an illness or injury that resulted from the abuse.2 You can learn more about these California changes on Praesidium’s blog, linked here.
- Florida recently passed a law in May 2023 establishing new civil action for victims of human trafficking. Specifically, now victims of human trafficking can recover damages from adult theaters and organizations in which they knowingly allow human trafficking.4
- Lastly, while New York state has now closed its one-year window as of December 2023, we can learn important lessons about the Adult Survivors Act’s impact on multiple individuals and organizations in New York. This law allowed civil suits to be filed for sexual assault and misconduct regardless of when it occurred.5 Multiple New York courts saw a steady filing of cases throughout the year and a significant increase in the fall of 2023. “The number of cases filed in State Supreme Court alone rose from 803 on October 31 to 1,397 as of November 22.” 5 Civil suits were filed against individual offenders and prominent organizations and institutions in New York like prisons and hospitals. Read more about the impact of the NY Adult Survivors Act impact here.
Date Signed into Law
Overview of 2023 Statutes of Limitation Updates
|April 11, 2023
|Arkansas opened a 2-year look-back window for civil cases that will be open until January 31, 2024. This law removes the age limit for victims to bring any civil action.6
|October 10, 2023
|This law eliminates the civil statute of limitations for damage suffered from childhood sexual abuse. This new law will apply to future cases of alleged abuse that take place on and after January 1, 2024, while the existing statute of limitations for alleged abuse occurring before this date will still apply.1
|October 13, 2023
|This law further specifies the time frame for seeking actions for recovery of damages from childhood sexual assaults that occurred before January 1, 2024. Survivors of child sexual abuse can file a claim within 22 years of the date the plaintiff turns 18 years old or within five years of the individual incurring an illness or injury that resulted from the abuse. 2
|May 16, 2023
|This law establishes that now victims of human trafficking can recover damages from adult theaters and organizations in which they knowingly allow human trafficking. The SOL is also eliminated for victims under the age of 16.4
|April 5, 2023
|Indiana has extended their criminal Statute of Limitations for cases that have occurred within five years from when DNA evidence is discovered, the state receives sufficient, recorded evidence, or a person confesses to the abuse.3
|April 14, 2023
|Kansas law now removes all criminal Statutes of Limitation for child sexual abuse material-related crimes, sex trafficking, and child sexual abuse. This also extends the civil Statute of Limitation for child sexual abuse material-related crimes and child sexual abuse to 13 years after the victim turns 18.7
|July 27, 2023
|Maine removed the criminal and civil Statutes of Limitations for all sexual exploitation and assault of a minor. 8
|April 11, 2023
|This law requires that any awards provided to a plaintiff cannot be more than $1.5 million if the incident occurred before October 1, 2023. Additionally, this law removes the civil Statute of Limitation for all child sexual abuse incidents. 9
|March 14, 2023
|This Mississippi law will ensure that the Statute of Limitations for the conspiracy to commit sexual abuse is the same as the Statute of Limitations for the actual sexual abuse crime. Extends the criminal SOL for conspiracy to commit CSA crimes to the SOL for the underlying crime. 10
|April 19, 2023
|Montana included child sex trafficking to have no criminal Statute of Limitations. The law also sets the civil Statute of Limitation for child sexual abuse to three years after the incident or age 27. 11
|April 12, 2023
|This law allows victims abused while under the age of 15 to pursue civil action until age 36. If the individual is older than 15, they still have 21 years to pursue civil action after the incident. 12
|October 12, 2023
|Ohio’s law now ensures survivors have five years after a child sexual abuse incident to file “claims against a bankruptcy estate of an organization chartered under federal law…” 13
|June 7, 2023
|This law establishes the criminal Statute of Limitation to six years after the crime. Additionally, if the survivor was younger than 18 at the time of the offense, they have until age 30 to act. 14
|June 12, 2023
|This law increases the civil Statute of Limitation for minor sex trafficking to ten years after the claim and up until the survivor is age 28. 15
|July 13, 2023
|This law extends the criminal Statute of Limitation for sexual abuse in the first degree to 20 years after the incident or before the survivor turns 30. It also raises the criminal SOL for first-degree sex crimes against minors to the age of 30 or 20 years after the commission of the crime. 16
|March 20, 2023
|This law now includes the criminal act of rape when the victim is incapable of consenting and extends the criminal Statute of Limitation to within seven years of the crime or before the survivor turns age 25. 17
|May 19, 2023
|This Texas law allows survivors to pursue criminal action three years after the incident. Additionally, this law now includes sexual grooming as a third-degree felony. 18
|June 9, 2023
|This law allows victims of child sexual abuse material possession or promotion for seven years to seek criminal action. This law also increases the criminal Statute of Limitation to 20 years after the survivor turns 18. 19
|May 1, 2023
|Regardless of the victim’s age, this law would extend the criminal Statute of Limitation for all sex offense crimes to two to four years after the DNA of the offender is identified.20
The diverse nature of these legislative updates shows how important it is for organizations to remain informed on how they may affect them. Praesidium always recommends consulting with your organization’s legal counsel to be best prepared on how Statute of Limitation changes may impact your organization.
Ultimately, organizations must be prepared to respond to allegations and suspicions of abuse, whether current or historical. Click here for a checklist resource that your organization can use to ensure you have the correct policies and procedures in place.
In addition to the checklist, if a survivor comes forward with an allegation, Praesidium can offer valuable resources, starting with guidance on providing a compassionate response. Organizations can access Praesidium’s Whitepaper: “Providing a Compassionate Response to Sexual Abuse,” to gain in-depth insights and practical strategies for handling such sensitive situations. This resource shares valuable guidance to aid organizations in approaching survivor disclosures with empathy and care, reinforcing Praesidium’s commitment to empowering organizations to create safer environments.
Praesidium’s comprehensive approach supports organizations in navigating the complexities of abuse prevention, crisis management, and survivor support. By leveraging Praesidium’s expertise and resources, organizations can establish a proactive and robust framework, ensuring a safe environment for all stakeholders.
Praesidium’s Crisis Management Toolkit is central to this approach, a vital resource that guides organizations through the critical moments following an allegation, shaping emotional responses, public opinions, and long-term exposures that may endure for years. This Crisis Management Toolkit includes diverse resources and guidance to navigate crisis response comprehensively, both before and after an allegation surfaces. This toolkit offers detailed guidelines for assembling a crisis response team, considerations for the crucial first days and weeks, strategies for crafting a transparent, victim-centered response, sample media holding statements, and community communications tailored for participants and families, among other essential response considerations.
- Bill Text: CA AB452
- Bill Text: CA SB558
- Bill Text: IN SB48
- Bill Text: FL SB7064
- New York Times: A Final Wave of Sex-Abuse Lawsuits as One-Year Window Closes in New York
- Bill Text: AR SB204
- Bill Text: KS HB2127
- Bill Text: ME LD1790
- Bill Text: MD SB686
- Bill Text: MS SB2337
- Bill Text: MT HB112
- Bill Text: ND SB2282
- Bill Text: OH HB35
- Bill Text: OR SB974
- Bill Text OR SB1052
- Bill Text: OR HB3632
- Bill Text: SD SB91
- Bill Text: TX SB1527
- Bill Text: TX HB1769
- Bill Text: WA HB1028