Child sexual abuse has been prominent in the news recently. The Catholic church and the Boy Scouts have both been impacted by sex abuse incidents. A bill that recently passed in the Tennessee legislature seeks to make changes to how some sexual abuse cases can be prosecuted. One of the major proposed changes concerns the statute of limitations around sex.
The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time that can pass between an incident occurring and the incident and charges being filed. The proposed legislation would increase the length of time allowed under the statute of limitations in almost all incidents of sexual abuse. This is particularly true where a juvenile is the perceived victim.
Under the new law, which at last report was waiting Governor Lee’s signature, if the reported victim is younger than 13, the statute of limitations would be eliminated. The same would hold true if the child is between the ages of 13 and 17 at the time of the alleged abuse and reports the abuse within five years of turning 18. If the incident is not reported within five years of a person’s turning 18, the statute of limitations would extend to 25 years. Beyond that period, evidence that is credible and admissible must be presented in order to bring charges.
Being charged with sex crimes is possibly one of the scariest charges a person can face. The possibility of damage to career, reputation, community standing and other aspects of one’s life becomes an overnight reality. While a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law, the stigma that can result from such a charge may carry on even if a person is found not guilty. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Tennessee can advise one of one’s rights and legal options and work to protect one’s rights throughout the criminal justice process.