Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes - Law Update

Effective September, 15, 2021, there is now no statute of limitations on sex crime laws – i.e. 1st through 4th degree criminal sexual conduct and contact crimes. The result is a perilous one for those facing dated sex crime allegations.

A statute of limitations prohibits the prosecution of certain offenses after a specified amount of time. These deadlines provide citizens with a sense of relief from prior alleged illegal acts. For example, a person does not have to worry that they will be charged with underage consumption after 20-year-old photo surfaces of them drinking at a high school party. The idea is that over time memories fade, witnesses are no longer credible, evidence is lost, and the crime should be barred from prosecution.

The old law required the State to begin prosecution of an alleged sex crime within three or nine years, depending on the circumstances, of the commission of the offense. However, the new amendment completely erased the statute of limitations – thus allowing the prosecution of a rape case decades after the alleged incident.

The new statute of limitations for sex crimes reads: “Indictments or complaints for violation of sections 609.322 and 609.342 to 609.345 may be found or made at any time after the commission of the offense.” Minn. Stat. § 628.26, subd. (e).

Keep this in mind – even under the old language – nine years is a long time. For example, let’s say you attended a party in high school — a party that nobody would forget. But you had to work the next morning, so you left early around 9:00 pm. Eight years pass, and a new allegation is made claiming that you sexually assaulted someone at the party late in the night when everyone was sleeping. Had this allegation been made a week after the party, your friends likely would remember that you left the party early. But the allegation was not made the next week; it was made eight years later. And although these witnesses remember that you attended the party, they cannot say confidently whether you left early or not. Meaning, exonerating evidence was changed into culpable evidence over time – confirming your presence at the party, but questioning whether you were present when the alleged conduct occurred.

Now, with this new law change, a sex crime allegation from a decade or two ago has these same problems, but even worse. And it goes without saying that whether you are facing a sex crime allegation from a year or decade ago, you need a team of attorneys that knows how to fight for you. Preparing an adequate defense is crucial in defending a sex crime allegation. Our seasoned attorneys here at North Star Criminal Defense employ tactical and directed strategies aimed at securing the best outcome for our clients; whether it be through challenging uncorroborated statements, hiring private investigators, or engaging strategic negotiation. 

Further, The North Star Criminal Defense team has experience in handling these types of cases, and our well-earned reputation and respect from the bench and prosecutors alike only aid in our efforts to put forth your best case. Contact us today.