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The Statute of Limitations for Arizona Sex Crimes

Posted on May 10, 2024 in

In every state, laws known as statutes of limitations place time limits on both civil and criminal legal actions. If the criminal statute of limitations for a sexual offense expires, prosecutors cannot press charges against a suspect in Arizona. The time limit to prosecute varies based on the type of sex crime.

Violent Sex Crimes: No Statute of Limitations

Arizona does not have any statutes of limitations on certain types of sex crimes. This includes violent sex crimes, or sexual assault cases that involve the use of physical force or psychological harm against the alleged victim.

Sexual assault, sexual battery and rape can all fall under this category if they involve physical force or the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. The city can prosecute an individual for allegedly committing a violent sex crime at any time in Arizona, regardless of how much time has passed from the date of the incident.

Sex Crimes Involving Children: No Statute of Limitations

There is also no statute of limitations on sex crimes involving children in Arizona. This includes the following:

  • Child molestation
  • Child pornography offenses
  • Child sex trafficking 
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Indecent exposure in front of a minor
  • Sexual abuse or assault of a child
  • Sexual conduct with a minor

Even if the alleged victim is now an adult, many decades later, these criminal cases can still be prosecuted in Arizona.

Felony Sex Crimes: 7 Years 

If a felony sex crime is not classified as violent or involving a child, it will most likely carry a statute of limitations of seven years under Arizona law. Revised Statute Section 13-107 states that class 2 through class 6 felony crimes come with a time limitation of seven years.

The seven-year statute of limitations applies to the following felony sex crimes, among others;

  • Attempted rape
  • Bestiality
  • Rape 
  • Sex trafficking
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Sodomy
  • Stalking

In most felony sex crime cases, the seven-year window begins from the date of actual discovery of the crime by the state or when the state should have discovered the crime through the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever comes first. 

Misdemeanor Sex Offenses: 1 Year 

Sex crimes that are classified as misdemeanors in Arizona come with a statute of limitations of one year. While the classification of a crime from felony to misdemeanor depends on the circumstances of the case, such as the severity of the incident and the defendant’s prior criminal history, common examples are indecent exposure, public sexual indecency and voyeurism. A Phoenix sex crimes lawyer can help navigate your criminal defense case.

You Could Face Civil Liability Even After the Criminal Statute of Limitations Expires 

Once the statute of limitations that applies to a criminal case has passed, prosecutors in Arizona generally cannot make an arrest or bring charges against a suspect. However, an individual could still face civil liability.

A civil claim is a type of lawsuit filed by an individual in pursuit of financial compensation for damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering related to the incident. If a defendant is found liable in a civil sexual assault case, he or she is held financially responsible for these damages.

In Arizona, a victim who was an adult at the time of the incident (18 or older) has two years to file a related personal injury claim. A victim of child sexual abuse, however, has until he or she is 30 years old to file a claim.

For information about the statute of limitations on a specific sexual offense criminal case in Arizona, contact Snader Law Group to request a free and confidential review.