OLR Research Report

February 5, 2003




By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney

You asked for each state's statute of limitation for sexual assault involving adult victims.

The statute of limitation for sexual assault involving adult victims vary widely by state, with several states having no period of limitation and others employing a graduated period based on the crime committed. In the latter group, no period of limitation is reserved for the most serious violations.

Alabama, Idaho, Maryland, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wyoming are among the states with no statute of limitation for sexual assault, according to a table compiled by the National Association of District Attorneys (copy attached).

States that reserve no statute of limitation for the most heinous sexual assault offenses include Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Hawaii has the shortest statute of limitation: three years for all sexual assault crimes, except first-degree sexual assault (penetration by strong compulsion).

Nevada has no statute of limitation if the crime victim files a written report with law enforcement officers during the formal four-year period of limitation. Washington has a 10-year statute of limitation if the victim files a report within one year after the crime is committed; otherwise the statute of limitation is three years.

Connecticut is among the states that have a shorter statute of limitation for minor offenses. In this state, the statute of limitation is generally five years. It is one year if the assault consists of nonconsensual sexual contact, not intercourse (fourth-degree sexual assault).

Connecticut legislators last considered a proposal to increase the statute of limitation for so-called adult sexual assault in 2000, when the Judiciary Committee raised HB 5903. That bill would have increased the period of limitation from five to 10 years from the date the victim notified the police or a prosecutor acting in their official capacity. The committee substituted the language in the raised bill with language that increased the statute of limitation only in sexual assault cases where DNA evidence identified the person who committed the crime. The committee favorably reported the bill, which subsequently became law (CGS 54-193b).

Most states, including Connecticut, have extended statutes of limitation when the sexual assault victim is a minor or when DNA evidence is present.