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Can a victim of child abuse/sexual abuse, press criminal charges

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Can a victim of child abuse/sexual abuse, press criminal charges years after the crimes were committed? It's my understanding that the statute of limitations extends indefinitely in California for assault on minors.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 7 years ago.

Hello and thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance as I answer your question.


  1. I am a licensed attorney with criminal law experience. I will be glad to try and answer your question. I hope that the following information will be helpful to you, but please just write back if you have any follow-up questions or need clarification on anything after reviewing the following information. I would be glad to interact with you further if needed after you click "Accept" to process my answer.
  2. Yes -- your understanding is correct, but I must add a few important caveats. Here is how this works under California law. For criminal cases, a prosecutor may file a charge of aggravated rape at any time, with no limitation (in California, an aggravated rape is rape that involves a weapon, more than one person, or seriously injures the victim). Prosecution for "normal" sexual assault has a statute of limitations of six years. However, there is an exception made for DNA analysis. Since it is a relatively new technology, if a DNA test can conclusively prove the identity of a rapist, prosecution can take place within one year of the discovery.
  3. In regards XXXXX XXXXX molestation, there has been a series of great upheavals regarding the statute of limitations in California. In the early 1990s, the Legislature passed a bill that retroactively waived the statute of limitations for all crimes of child molestation, meaning even people who were previously immune to prosecution could suddenly be arrested. This law was overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a recent case, so now the law's retroactive provision is eliminated.
  4. What remains is a 10 year statute of limitations for child molestation. However, the crime can also be prosecuted within one year of whenever a victim tells the police (even past the 10 year mark). This sounds rather contradictory, because this means that the 10 year limitation is essentially pointless, but it is the current law of the land. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that it is always best to go ahead and report the crime -- regardless of when it was committed -- and let the local law enforcement authorities and prosecutor handle the case.


I hope that this information has been helpful to you. If we can be of any further assistance please free to use our service again. Best wishes for a successful outcome.


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The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

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