Is New Jersey on the Verge of Changing its Statute of Limitations?
New Jersey’s Criminal and Civil Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse Cases
In New Jersey, there is no statute of limitations for child molestation and other sex abuse related crimes. However, the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse lawsuits is two years after the victim discovers the abuse caused injury.
New Jersey’s statute for civil sex abuse cases is slightly unusual in that the clock starts ticking after the victim becomes aware that they’ve been damaged by the abuse. This standard makes a statute of limitations question in New Jersey somewhat complicated and unclear.
Other states like Pennsylvania have a hard and fast rule. Pennsylvania civil sex abuse cases must be brought before the victim’s 30th birthday. This law only applies for victims who turned 18 after the law was changed, in 2002. For those who turned 18 before the statute was enacted, their civil cases are likely to be time-barred. However, it is still important to speak to a sex abuse lawyer because there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations which might apply.
Pennsylvania’s criminal statute of limitations is the victim’s 50th birthday. The Commonwealth can file charges for sex abuse related crimes up to the victim’s 50th birthday.
New Jersey Considers Bill to Change Statute of Limitations in Civil Child Sex Abuse Cases
Last fall, the New Jersey legislature considered a bill which would extend the civil statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse. S1651 would have extended the statute of limitations from 2 years to 30 years after turning 18 (or age 48). If passed, the law would allow victims to sue their abusers as well as institutions and other people who hid the abuse. The bill would also open a two year window for all those whose civil cases were time-barred. The two year window would allow these victims to go ahead and file suit. Read the text of S1651 here.
Sponsored by Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), the bill is clearly a direct response to the Sandusky-Penn State scandal. The bill would expand liability of certain kinds of persons, such as trustees, board members, directors, volunteers, as well as any other individual who permits or acquiesces in child sex abuse, not just those who stand in a parental role/relationship to the child.
Unfortunately, the bill failed to pass. At least one other previous version of the bill was attempted, but also failed to pass after opposition from Catholic clergy.
We must expand the statute of limitations in cases of child sex abuse, both criminal and civil. Child sex abuse is particularly difficult for victims to discuss, let alone seek justice in civil and criminal courts. Child sex abusers thrive on silence, and that’s why we must make it easier for victims to step forward. Find your New Jersey legislators here and urge them to support this bill and any future attempts to pass it.
Related Pennsylvania Child Sex Abuse Legal Articles:
- Mandatory Reporting Requirements – Reporting Known or Suspected Child Sex Abuse in PA and NJ
- Free Legal Assistance to Victims of Sexual Abuse in Pennsylvania, New York & New Jersey
New Jersey Child Sex Abuse Civil Lawyer – Representation by a Former Sex Crimes Unit Prosecutor
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sex abuse, contact Brian Kent. Mr. Kent is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who has devoted his career to helping victims of sex abuse in the criminal and civil justice systems.
Mr. Kent handles child molestation, sexual assault, sex abuse, and priest/clergy abuse cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He works with attorneys nationwide and can be admitted in other states to handle matters on a case by case basis. 800.220.7600
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.