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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Advancing Public Policy for Survivors of Child Sexual Assault

August 09, 2012

Legislatures nationwide are grappling with determining the proper statute of limitations (SOL) for child sexual abuse cases. NCVLI recently undertook a review of the state of the nation. 

In general, SOLs are justified by a number of policy considerations, including preserving the availability of evidence, encouraging prompt responses by law enforcement, supporting a sense of fairness in the justice process, and reducing the burden on court dockets. Recognizing that the calculus regarding the SOL changes in the context of child sexual abuse, a considerable number of jurisdictions have abolished SOLs entirely with respect to at least some sexual offenses committed against child-victims. Such a legislative determination is supported by empirical research regarding the delayed disclosure of child sexual abuse, sound public policy rationales supporting the desirability of facilitating child-victims’ access to the courts, and victims’ constitutional and statutory rights to fairness and protection.  

A chart of the state of the nation can be found by clicking here.  And check out our law library for other important victims’ rights publications!