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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes in Arizona?

Posted on October 24, 2023 in assault & violent crimes

Statutes of limitations are laws that impose deadlines on the right to file a civil lawsuit or bring criminal charges against an individual in Arizona. If the applicable statute of limitations expires, the city cannot file criminal charges against a suspect for an alleged sexual offense. The statute of limitations for sex crimes in Arizona varies based on the case.

No Statute of Limitations: Sex Crimes Against Children and Violent Sex Crimes

In Arizona, there is no statute of limitations for sex crimes committed against children under the age of 15. These crimes are often referred to as child molestation or child sexual abuse, but can also include child sexual exploitation, child pornography and child sex trafficking. Charges for a sex crime involving a child can be brought at any time in Arizona, regardless of how many years have passed from the date of the alleged offense.

There is also no statute of limitations on a violent sex crime case. A violent sex crime refers to sexual assault or abuse that involves an act of violence, such as the use of physical force or psychological harm. Threats, intimidation, assault or battery occurring with any form of nonconsensual sexual contact can meet the definition of a violent sex crime in Arizona. City prosecutors have no set amount of time in which they must bring charges against an individual for an alleged violent sex crime.

Seven Years: Most Other Felonies

Most felony sex crimes that are classes 2 to 6 in Arizona have a statute of limitations of seven years. This includes felony sexual assault, rape, attempted rape, sodomy, sex trafficking and stalking. However, the clock on the statute of limitations will not start ticking until the date that police determine the identity of the suspect. Prior to making this determination, Arizona prosecutors have no statute of limitations on these sex crime cases.

One Year: Most Misdemeanors

The majority of misdemeanor sexual offenses in Arizona have a statute of limitations of one year. These offenses include indecent exposure and public sexual indecency. The clock on this statute of limitations will start on the date of actual discovery or the date that the discovery should have been made with reasonable diligence – whichever comes first.

Civil Statutes of Limitations in Arizona

The criminal and civil courts operate under two separate justice systems, with different rules and regulations. While a criminal case for a sex crime in Arizona is meant to punish an offender for violating the law, such as with a jail sentence, a civil case is meant to compensate or make a victim whole again with a financial recovery. 

The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim for sexual assault or abuse against an adult (someone over the age of 18) in Arizona is two years from the date of the incident. Prior to 2019, the statute of limitations on a child sexual abuse civil case was two years from the child’s 18th birthday. Under Arizona’s new law (Arizona Revised Statute 12-514), however, the time limit for a victim to file a civil lawsuit for child sexual abuse is 12 years from the minor’s 18th birthday, or until the victim reaches the age of 30.

If you are concerned about a potential sex crime charge in Arizona or have been arrested for an alleged sexual offense, contact AZ Defenders immediately for legal advice and assistance. We offer free initial consultations about the facts of your case, including applicable statutes of limitations.