Statutes of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Complex in California (CA Penal Code 799, 800, 801, and 803)

Rabin Nabizadeh
August 22, 2014

As the California chapter of the Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) is in the midst of supporting 2 different pieces of legislation (The Bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act and the Survivor Outreach and Support Campus Act (“SOS”) and in the wake of the Cal State San Marcos date rape scandal, it is important to understand the California statues of limitations when it comes to sexual abuse.  In other words, how long do you have to report sexual abuse before it becomes too late?

Some sexual abuse crimes in California are subject to statutes of limitations, but there are some rather large loopholes in these law that allow victims to attempt to either prosecute or sue their alleged offender long after the statute of limitations has expired.  First, the statute of limitations for a particular crime is only applicable to the year that it occurred.  So, for example, if someone committed a rape in the mid 1960s, there would have been a 3-year statute of limitation during which the victim would have to come forward.  When the law changed in the early 70s, even though the statute of limitations was lengthened, if the crime occurred beforehand, there could be no prosecution, as the statute of limitations ran out before the law was changed.

The current statute of limitations for California rape is actually rather complex.  For certain crimes, there are different limitations.  When charged with sexual offense on a minor, the victim must file a complaint before they turn 28 years of age; rape carries with it a 10-year statute of limitations (CA Penal Code 799, 800, 801, and 803).  Additionally, if DNA evidence is involved, the victim must file a complaint within 1 year of the date that DNA evidence conclusively determined the identity of the assailant.


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