Being accused of sexual assault is difficult to bear, nerve-wracking, and embarrassing. Being falsely accused is even worse. Every individual accused of a crime deserves an effective and aggressive defense, and for those who have been falsely accused, the stakes are even higher.
If you have been accused of a sexual assault crime, you may be feeling alone and defenseless, but remember that there is help for you. At the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, our attorneys have the compassion and knowledge you need to handle your most personal and sensitive matters. Our Ventura criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience in advocating for those who have been accused of sex crimes. Contact us at (805) 643-5555 as soon as possible for peace of mind and the clarity and confidence needed to tackle your case.
What Are the California Statutes of Limitation on Sexual Assault Crimes?
Though California law does impose statutes of limitation (SOLs) on some of its sexual abuse crimes, it important to remember that there are many legal loopholes in play that can usually allow a victim to bring their case anyway. Though there is new legislation in play in California, (discussed in detail below) those alleging sexual assault are bound to the statute of limitations that was in place at the time of the alleged crime is the one that will be applied to their case.
After deciding to seek legal representation, victims must then decide whether they wish to pursue a civil or criminal suit against their alleged assaulter. Civil lawsuits differ from criminal lawsuits in that individuals file lawsuits instead of government authorities to punish liable parties by recovering compensation for damages. The statutes of limitation differ depending on which avenue a victim takes, so it’s important to consult a California attorney about which type of suit you may be facing.
Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuits in California
To seek damages for harm resulting from sexual abuse, an individual must file a civil lawsuit. If filing a civil sexual abuse suit against a private entity (i.e., an individual), a California victim must file the claim within 8 years of reaching majority. The age of majority in California is 18, so the person alleging abuse must file the lawsuit before reaching age 26. There is an exception to this rule, however, based on the later discovery of sexual abuse or its damages. In the event that a victim has repressed the memory of the abuse or does not experience its effects until many years later, a victim is granted an additional 3 years to bring the claim.
For suits against government entities, a much stricter limit applies. When a government entity is a party, civil suits must be filed within 6 months of the event.
Criminal Sexual Assault Lawsuits in California
For criminal cases in California, a prosecutor may file a charge of aggravated rape at any time, with no SOL in place. An aggravated rape is one that involves a weapon, more than one person, or serious bodily injury to the victim. For a non-aggravated rape, the SOL is 6 years. Due to a technological advancement in DNA analysis, there is another loophole available to extend the SOL. If a DNA test can conclusively prove the identity of a rapist, prosecution can take place within one year of the discovery.
In cases involving child molestation, a longer 10 year SOL applies. There is yet another exception to this rule. Even after the 10 year mark has passed, the crime can also be prosecuted within one year of whenever the victim tells the police about the crime. This exception may appear to swallow the 10-year rule and make it effectively pointless, but it remains in place in California legislature.
Rape Crimes Committed After January 1, 2017
In September of 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill ending the statute of limitations on prosecuting rape cases. Many believe the bill to be inspired by the allegations against comedian Bill Cosby. The law states that it allows “the prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration, that are committed under certain circumstances, as specified, to be commenced at any time.” Under this new legislation, victims of sexual assault committed after January 1, 2017 can come forward to report their case with no time limit.
Contact a California Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you or a loved one have been accused of sexual assault in California, you have options. The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC can answer all of your difficult questions, explain your rights and take all the necessary steps to bring justice to your case. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with our experienced California criminal defense attorneys concerning the allegations against you, contact our law offices right away at (805) 643-5555.