The statute of limitations for prosecuting rape depends on the definite charge for criminal cases. In addition, there is a deadline for an individual to file a civil action to claim financial compensation for an allegation of rape.


What is the Statute of Limitation?

A statute of limitations is the time limit that governs whether anyone can accuse you of a criminal offense or file a case against you in civil court. If the time limit expires, you may not be able to file a lawsuit, or you may request that the case be dismissed. The court has no jurisdiction in a criminal or civil case where the statute of limitations has expired.


In a criminal context, the statute of limitation is the limitation period for the prosecutor to file a charge sheet. In some jurisdictions, the statutes take effect from the date of the crime or the date on which the crime is discovered. In other jurisdictions, the statute takes effect after the victim notifies the authorities of the crime.


The purpose of a Statute of Limitations

States can set the statute of limitation for a variety of reasons. For instance, a statute may exist for the reason that it is hard to bring legal action against a case after a certain period. Witnesses may die or shift or may be lost or destroy the evidence. There may not be enough space to stock evidence for unresolved crimes. Ideally, states should set the statute of limitation so that the wrongdoers do not stay in anguish for the rest of their life. At some point, the potential defendants may be able to overcome the legal time required to pay for their criminalities.


Definition of rape

Before stating that the law of limitations applies, the suspected crime must befall within the definition of rape. Every state has its definition of crime. In public law, rape is defined as forced and unlawful sexual intercourse without the consent of the individual. Based on this definition, the interaction between the spouses is excluded from the rape. Furthermore, this definition often necessitates the penetration by a man into a woman. Some jurisdictions retain this definition, while others refer to it as a forced sexual activity even without penetration. The Model Penal Code defines rape as an act of forceful sexual intercourse by a man or his impending use of force against a woman. Different punishments are given for different degrees of rape. Sexual assault may have a statute with fewer limitations than rape.


Ten years or less

Many jurisdictions have a limit of ten years or less. States having ten-year limitations are California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, Texas, and Washington. Maine has an eight-year and North Dakota has a seven-year statute of limitations. Oregon, Vermont, Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Hawaii have six-years limitations. Connecticut has five years and Florida has four years statute of limitations. Minnesota has three years which is the smallest statute of limitation of all.


For more than ten years

Some states have statutes of limitation of more than ten years. Pennsylvania, for example, has a 12-year limit. Some rapes in Georgia, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., have a statute of limitations. Rape in Ohio has a twenty-year statute of limitations.


DNA exception

As for states with the statute of limitations on rape, many of them have been exceptions in connection with DNA. For instance, few states may have a general rule, but an exception is made if a match is found in the DNA database after the common law has been enforced.


Other exceptions

There may be other exceptions that apply. For instance, if the victim is a child under a certain age, there may be a longer statute of limitations. Similarly, some states do not initiate a statute of limitations if a suspect intentionally evades prosecution or inhabit other states.


No limits

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are the states which do not have statutes of limitations for some forms of rape or all rape offenses.