statute of limitations

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Rape Claims?

The statute of limitations on rape claims depends on the specific charge for criminal cases. Also, there is a time limit for a person to file a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation for a claim of rape. If you think that you might be facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit that alleges rape, you should talk with a Seattle sex crimes defense attorney right away to protect your rights.

Statutes of limitations are the deadlines that control whether someone can prosecute you for criminal charges or sue you in civil court. Once the time limit passes, you cannot get sued, or you can request that the case gets dismissed. The court has no jurisdiction over a criminal or civil case for which the statute of limitations has passed.

Criminal Statute of Limitations for Rape in Washington State

Depending on the exact nature of the alleged offense, the statute of limitations for a rape claim can range from 10 years to 20 years after the offense to no limitation. 

  • If someone accuses you of rape in the third degree from more than 10 years ago, you cannot get prosecuted for that alleged crime. Rape in the third degree is a class C felony. The 10-year deadline does not apply to the rape of a child in the third degree.
  • The statute of limitations for charges of rape in the first or second degree is 20 years after commission. The 20-year deadline does not apply to charges of first or second-degree rape of a victim who was under the age of 16 at the time or to charges of first, second, or-third degree rape of a child. 

These charges may be prosecuted at any time after their commission, regardless of how much time passes after the alleged commission:

  • Rape in the first degree if the victim is under the age of sixteen
  • Rape in the second degree if the victim is under the age of sixteen
  • Rape of a child in the first degree
  • Rape of a child in the second degree 
  • Rape of a child in the third degree 

A conviction of rape can be a Class A or Class C felony.

How Much Time a Person Has to Sue in Civil Court for Money Damages for Rape in Washington State

Washington law says that a person who accuses another of the civil tort of rape or sexual assault must file a lawsuit within two years of the alleged act if they want to go after money damages from the accused. After the deadline passes, the accuser can forever lose the right to hold that person financially liable.

Rape can be both a crime and a tort. A tort is a civil lawsuit, entirely independent of any criminal case. Regardless of whether you are the subject of a civil or criminal case that involves allegations of rape or sexual assault, you need to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. 

A felony conviction for a sex crime can ruin your life. You would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life and get harassed by people who want to run you out of their neighborhoods. Your dream college or career could be a broken and impossible dream. You and your family can experience social stigma. A Seattle criminal defense attorney can work tirelessly to get the charges reduced or dismissed or try to negotiate the best outcome possible. Contact Jennifer today.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.