statute of limitations for rape

Your Sex Crime Attorney: Understanding the Statute Limitations for Rape in Texas

Did you know that Texas has laws that “put an expiry date” on certain lawsuits?

These exist under a set of laws known as the statute of limitations and restrict how long an individual can take before filing a lawsuit.

But why would the state put time limits on lawsuits?

First, time restrictions ensure that criminal charges don’t hang over your head indefinitely. Second, they preserve the integrity of the evidence so that cases can be prosecuted with utmost justice and efficiency.

In Texas, the statute of limitations for rape applies to some sex crimes. But since the “legal expiry date” varies according to the type of sexual abuse, it can be tricky to know which provisions apply to your case.

To shed some light on the issue, here’s an in-depth look at the statute of limitations for rape lawsuits under Texan law:

What is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Rape?

The statute of limitations (SOL) is a set of laws that specify the amount of time a rape prosecutor or victim has to file a lawsuit. The time limit is final, meaning that if someone files a lawsuit after the SOL time provision elapses, it’s dismissed.

For a given sex crime, only the SOL that was in place at the time of perpetration applies. This means that amendments to the SOL made after an incident can’t affect its prosecution.

It’s the right of every defendant to cite a statute of limitations to avoid prosecution when the time limit for prosecuting the alleged offense has expired.

But for a defendant to exercise this right, their attorney must invoke it before the innocence or guilt stage of a court trial. This implies that the statute of limitations is inadmissible in court as a defense during a post-trial appeal.

To apply the statute as a defense, the defendant’s attorney has to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit under article 27.08(2) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Statutes of Limitations for Rape Cases Under Texas Law

The statutes of limitations apply to some sex crimes. The length of time restriction and the conditions for its applicability vary according to the type of sex crime committed.

The various types of sex crimes include:

  • Continuous sexual abuse of a minor
  • Sexual assault
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Improper relationship between teachers and students
  • Improper sexual conduct
  • Indecency with a child
  • Sexual violence
  • Kidnapping with intent to sexually abuse

For legal purposes, a minor means anyone who’s younger than 18 years.

Each sex crime is prosecuted differently and the severity varies with the age of the victim. Generally, there are fewer time limitations on filing lawsuits for sexual offenses against children compared to rape cases involving adult victims.

Here’s what Texas rape law says:

Sex Crimes Against Minors

Texas law has a reputation for being more severe on defendants charged with sex crimes against children than those charged with sexual abuse against adults. So it’s no surprise that defendants charged with sexual abuse on children have fewer rights under the statute of limitations.

Based on amendments made to Article 12.01(1) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure in 2007, crimes such as an aggravated sexual assault on a minor, indecency with a child, and continuous sexual abuse of a child aren’t subject to any time limitations.

As such, a defendant can face prosecution regardless of how long it’s been since they allegedly committed the crime. But the 2007 amendments to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure don’t apply to persons protected by earlier statutes of limitations.

Some sex crimes qualify for the statute of limitations, but the conditions vary. For cases of an improper relationship between an educator and his/her student, the allowable time limit is up to three years after the incident. In cases involving child prostitution, the time restriction for filing a lawsuit is 10 years.

Additionally, cases such as aggravated kidnapping with intent to sexually abuse the victim and burglary with intent to sexually violate a child qualify for a statute of limitations of up to 20 years.

But if the victim was a minor at the time of the felony and files a lawsuit after they’ve turned 18, the time limit shall be 20 years from their 18th birthday and not the date of the alleged crime.

Note that for some sex crimes against children such as child pornography, federal statutes of limitations apply. If a case is classified as a federal crime, state statutes of limitations aren’t allowed as a defense in court.

Sexual Abuse Against Adults

In Texas, some sex crimes against adult victims qualify for a 10-year statute of limitations. These include aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault, but some conditions may deem the statute void.

In lawsuits involving sexual assault, the statute of limitations doesn’t apply if:

  • There’s compelling evidence of the sex offender in question committing the same or similar sex crime against five or more other victims.
  • During the investigation, DNA evidence collected and tested by forensic experts doesn’t match the victim’s DNA or any other readily identifiable individual.

In aggravated sexual assault cases the statute of limitation becomes void if:

  • The sex offender maims, disfigures or wounds the victim while perpetrating the sex crime.
  • The victim is mentally or physically incapacitated.

Lastly, a 3-year time limit applies to lawsuits for sex crimes that are classified under prohibited sexual conduct.

Finding the Right Attorney for Rape Charges

Rape is a serious charge, especially if you’re prosecuted under the severe laws of Texas. So if you’re dealing with such a lawsuit, you’ll need a lawyer who has experience in the Texas criminal justice system.

Mario Madrid is one such lawyer. With over two decades of litigation experience, a stellar reputation, and a strong track record, he’s exactly the kind of lawyer you want in your corner when facing a sex crime charge.

So don’t wait any longer, contact Madrid Law Firm to get started with a free consultation.