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In December of 1996, there was no statute of limitations. The law eliminating the statute of limitations for sexual assault went into effect in 1996, and in Texas, laws go into effect on September 1st of the year they were enacted, unless otherwise specified. So, since the law was passed in '96, by December it was in effect and there would not be a statute of limitations.
One point that I need to clarify: does this involve the sexual assault of a child or an adult?
Also, does this case involve DNA?
When there is DNA evidence, there is no statute of limitations.
For your reference, here is the statute. The DNA part was amended to this form in 1996.
(1) no limitation:
(A) murder and manslaughter;
(B) sexual assault under Section 22.011(a)(2), Penal Code, or aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021(a)(1)(B), Penal Code;
(C) sexual assault, if:
(i) during the investigation of the offense biological matter is collected and subjected to forensic DNA testing and the testing results show that the matter does not match the victim or any other person whose identity is readily ascertained; or
(ii) probable cause exists to believe that the defendant has committed the same or a similar sexual offense against five or more victims;
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