Law Offices of Marc Neff
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Statute of Limitation in Cases Involving Sexual Crime Charges

Pennsylvania criminal statutes set limits for how much time can pass before formal criminal charges must be brought after someone is accused of having committed a crime. This is to protect individuals from being charged with a crime after the evidence (physical or eyewitness) may have deteriorated with time.

If a person is charged with a major sexual offense, prosecution must commence within 12 years after commission of the offense. The following are listed as major offenses in Title 18 of the PA Crimes Code:

  • Rape  (§ 3121)
  • Statutory sexual assault  (§ 3122.1)
  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse(§ 3123)
  • Sexual assault (§ 3124.1)
  • Aggravated indecent assault (§ 3125)
  • Incest (§ 4302)
  • Sexual abuse of children, to include photographing, videotaping, depicting on a computer or filming sexual acts (§ 6312 )

If the victims is under the age of 18 at the time of  the prosecution has until that individual’s 50th birthday to commence proceedings for the following offenses (Title 18):

  • Rape  (§ 3121)
  • Statutory sexual assault  (§ 3122.1)
  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse(§ 3123)
  • Sexual assault (§ 3124.1)
  • Aggravated indecent assault (§ 3125)
  • Indecent exposure (§ 3127)
  • Incest (§ 4302)
  • Endangering welfare of children (§ 4304)
  • Corruption of minors (§ 6301)
  • Sexual abuse of children, to include photographing, videotaping, depicting on a computer or filming sexual acts (§ 6312 )
  • Sexual exploitation of children (§ 6320)

DNA Exception

Title 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 5552  states that if evidence of a misdemeanor sexual offense or any felony offense is obtained containing DNA, and that DNA is subsequently used to identify an otherwise unidentified individual as the perpetrator of the offense, the prosecution may be commenced within the period of limitations provided for that offense, or within one year after the identity of the individual is determined, whichever occurs later.

Public Office Exception

When an offense is committed by a public officer or employee in the course of or in connection with his office or employment or within five years thereafter, the limitation may be extended by not more than eight years. (Title 18 § 6312 )

Tolling of a statute of limitation

Most statutes of limitation run for the duration during which the person accused of the crime remains visible (has a home or has work) in the Commonwealth. Generally, if the accused is out of the state in which the crime occurred, the statute is suspended. As soon as the accused reenters the state, the statute resumes running.

Contact The Law Offices of Marc Neff

An experienced criminal lawyer will have an in-depth understanding of state, federal and local rules, in order to  navigate the criminal justice system efficiently and competently. Statutes of limitation can change over time. An experienced criminal defense attorney is aware of these changes. To schedule a confidential consultation contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff by phone at (215) 563-9800 or by email at marc@nefflawoffices.com.