Child Sexual Abuse 2019 Legislation Statute of Limitations



Date of Publication
November, 2019

After the 2019 legislative session, the Statute of Limitations (SOL) law was updated to eliminate the SOL for specific sexual assault crimes, and modify it for others. This law is not retroactive, meaning sexual assault crimes committed prior to this law’s effective date (July 28, 2019) cannot be prosecuted according to this new law. RCW 9A.04.080 gives a list of sexual assault offenses for which charges can be brought forward indefinitely, no more than twenty years, and no more then ten years.

Statute of Limitations: Eliminated

The SOL is now eliminated for the following sexual assault crimes against persons younger than 16 years old:

Statute of limitations: Ten years

The new law extends the SOL by 10 years for victims who are older than 16 years of age when the crime was committed.

What does this mean for advocacy?

Because the law is not retroactive, it does not impact current advocacy strategies that much. It can be useful to mention changes when working with young people and parents. Knowing that there is no clock counting down the Statute of Limitations might offer some relief.

As sexual assault advocates we don’t have to memorize legislation or interpret criminal charges from a survivor’s story. It is within our role to support survivors of sexual violence as they navigate the criminal justice system and find healing and meaning-making. While it may be useful for advocates to have a baseline understanding of sexual assault legislation, we prioritize the survivor’s choices and center the impact of the legal process on the survivor.