When a crime is committed, there is a window of time that a state has to charge the perpetrator. The laws that determine this time frame are called criminal statutes of limitations. As high-profile cases of sexual violence continue to make headlines—and as survivors seek to report crimes—it can help to have a better understanding of these laws and how they vary.
Each state has laws that prevent someone from being prosecuted for a crime after a certain period of time, these are known as statutes of limitations. Some states provide exceptions to their time limits—for example, if DNA evidence is discovered, the state is allowed more time to prosecute.
Use this map to find out how your state compares: https://www.rainn.org/statutes-limitations
Where to report
- If you know or suspect that a child has been sexually assaulted or abused you can report these crimes to the proper authorities, such as Child Protective Services. Reporting agencies vary from state to state. To see where to report to in your state, visit RAINN’s State Law Database.
- Call or text the Childhelp National Abuse Hotline at 800.422.4453 to be connected with a trained volunteer. Childhelp Hotline crisis counselors can’t make the report for you, but they can walk you through the process and let you know what to expect.
To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.